Iraq's Odious Debts

Press briefing: Australian agriculture officials discuss rebuilding efforts in Iraq

Bureau of International Information Pro
Washington File, USA
July 10, 2003

Coalition Officials Say Farm Development Advancing in Iraq Security concerns don’t stop work, U.S., Australian officials say

Agricultural development efforts are moving forward in Iraq despite security concerns, said the U.S. senior advisor to Iraq for agriculture.

Speaking July 9 at a press briefing in Washington, Dan Amstutz said U.S. agriculture officials are working closely with representatives of the Australian government and have met with representatives of the World Bank and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to plan the reconstruction of the country’s agricultural sector.

Amstutz said officials have begun also to meet with Iraqi farmers, cautioning that patience is needed as the country’s agricultural sector shifts from a heavily-subsidized system to one that is market-based.

He characterized the security situation in Iraq as “serious” and said the contacts with farmers have been constrained in recent weeks because of a limited number of military personnel available to accompany them on convoys for travel outside of Baghdad.

Also at the briefing, Trevor Flugge, Australia’s senior ministry advisor for agriculture, said coalition officials have been working to assure Iraqis in the agriculture ministry that the coalition is in the country “to help you as much as we possibly can to manage through the processes of change.” He said he stressed to the Iraqis that the coalition’s commitment is long-term.

Amstutz and Flugge are scheduled to return to Iraq the week of July 14.

Flugge said that Iraq has “huge potential for economic growth” and said the United States and Australia need to invest in the country so it can grow to be a strong trading partner.

Flugge praised the coordination between coalition civilian and military personnel in rebuilding the agriculture ministry building.

Also speaking at the briefing, J.B. Penn, U.S. under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, said Iraq’s wheat and rice needs have been met “for the next several months.”

Following are excerpts from the press briefing:

(begin text)

U. S., Australian Agriculture Officials Discuss Rebuilding Efforts in Iraq Dan Amstutz, U.S. Senior Ministry Advisor for Agriculture Trevor Flugge, Australian Senior Ministry Advisor for Agriculture

J. B. Penn, USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Wednesday, July 9, 2003

PENN: Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. I know that Iraq and developments there continue to be of great interest to most of you, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to update you on the situation as it evolves, as it involves us.

We’ve had a couple of earlier sessions with you to keep you apprised of our efforts, of our efforts to assist in rebuilding the Iraqi economy, especially the agricultural part. As all of you know, this is a joint undertaking with the Australians, our Coalition partner.

Since we last briefed you, on June the 7th, Mr. Amstutz has been to Baghdad for a series of meetings with the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA] and for his own firsthand observations of the situation.

Also, since we last touched base, our USDA Foreign Service Officer, Lee Schatz, who’s been in Baghdad since mid-April, has returned. Lee is going to be stateside now for several weeks, but he is going to return to Iraq in the near future, and in the meantime, he’s going to be actively engaged here, helping to backstop the efforts in the field.

Another one of our Foreign Service Officers, Mr. Lloyd Harbert, has gone to Baghdad, and he’s going to be posted there for several months replacing Lee. Lloyd joins his Australian counterparts in Baghdad, and they’ll continue the activities and the operations that Lee, and Trevor and others have, the Australian counterparts have underway. We also expect that we’ll be sending several technical specialists over the next several months to assist in all of those efforts.

Next week, Trevor and Dan are returning to Baghdad together. And they’ve had an opportunity this week to meet with senior administration officials around town, representatives of the World Bank, other international organizations, and other groups to apprise them of their assessments and to tell them about our activities there.

I want to ask both of these gentlemen to say a few words of introduction about the situation in Iraq and our activities there, and then we’ll turn to your questions.

FLUGGE: It is certainly a pleasure to have the opportunity to be here and particularly to be with Dan and Lee because I’ve worked with Lee now for the last six weeks in Baghdad, and what I want to say is that our relationship, in terms of our objectives that are set here, the way we’ve been able to work together has been absolutely outstanding.

For Dan, I’ve known Dan Amstutz for the last 20-odd years, and on various occasions, in past lives, we’ve worked together. We are clearly of one mind as to what we need to be doing to help the people of Iraq in terms of agriculture.

AMSTUTZ: I just want to really join J.B. in welcoming Trevor to the United States. I think both he and I have enjoyed this opportunity to meet with a myriad of U.S. administration people, as well as the World Bank, so important to this venture. This whole Iraqi effort has many fathers, as I’m sure you all know. Many agencies of government are involved.

I am pleased with the Agriculture Ministry team that’s in place in Baghdad and servicing it from capitals. We have a good team, and I think probably more has been accomplished in the agriculture area than in most other ministry areas.

Saying that, I’ll repeat something which you all know, that there are major issues that still have to be addressed in Iraq. The security issue is serious, so we have difficulty getting around, and power and water still are not flowing at the rates that we all would like, and telecommunications is a real problem throughout the country of Iraq. Fortunately, we have communications now among ourselves, which was nonexistent several weeks ago.

Nonetheless, the efforts plod ahead. The farmers were able to sell this year’s harvest of wheat and barley and have been paid for it. We are working hard to get the inputs together so that the fall-sown crops can go to the ground with the necessary inputs.

Big progress has been made — a real thanks to Lee Schatz on developing the Management Committee of the Ag Ministry into a functioning group. And Trevor and I share this vision that we have for Iraq that one day it will have an agriculture industry which is a showpiece for the entire Middle East. That is our hope, and we want to help facilitate that.

QUESTION: A question for Mr. Flugge. What is your assessment of the potential impact on Australian contracts, existing wheat contracts, and the future of Australian wheat sales in Iraq based on the pending U.N. review and potential renegotiation of those contracts?

FLUGGE: Let me explain something that I think is a bit of a misconception by a lot of people because the ministry that we work in is the Ministry of Agriculture, and we actually have no contact directly with the Ministry of Trade, who are responsible for the importation of food products.

The Ministry of Agriculture does have a responsibility for the importation of some feed items, such as feed that is available for chickens and the like, and because really the livestock industry [is] limited to chickens, very limited dairy, very limited beef production, and the sheep meat production don’t require imported feed, we actually have very little involvement.

Q: Trevor, could you give us — Mr. Amstutz has mentioned this before — but could you give us, from the Australian point of view, your assessment of the security issues, both for yourself and the Australians who are working there, but also in terms of how this is affecting your ability to work in the field with Iraqi farmers and how that also works at a kind of local town level or village level.

FLUGGE: When we first arrived in Baghdad with the ORHA [Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance] group — we actually went into a period where I think there was basically, after the war, there was a huge release of emotion by the people, generally, and there was a lot of confusion, but generally people were saying, “The war is over, thank God. We’ve been freed from this millstone that’s been around our neck for the last 20-odd years, and there is a better life ahead of us.”

And so we went into a period of where I think everyone was very, very comfortable, and we, as civilians working in that environment, were also very comfortable. We traveled extensively during that period. We traveled in, you know, these SUVs [sports utility vehicles] that we’ve been given. We were able to travel to the North. We traveled to the South to farmers meetings. We were able to communicate very freely. Our ministry building in the center of Baghdad was one where we visited virtually every day and met with the Management Committee and other people that came into that building. So it was very comfortable.

I must admit the last couple of weeks things have changed, and I don’t think this is unexpected, and that is that all of a sudden the people of Iraq have woken up. The honeymoon is over. It’s actually going to be hard work from thereon. The country is technically bankrupt. A lot of the infrastructure is showing the signs of neglect of the last 25 years.

So things like power and water were inadequate before the war. They haven’t improved overnight, and of course they can’t improve overnight, but there was an expectation by a lot of people that, you know, the Coalition could wave the magic wand and basically bring 100 percent of power back to Baghdad in one minute It’s not going to happen. And despite the best efforts of the Coalition partners and the people working in that area, it’s going to take some time to bring it back up to speed.

So we’ve got now a situation where I think there is a degree of concern and unrest amongst the people. I think that’s understandable. I think there is a concern that the security is not as good as it should be, and I think there’s potential at least for some organized, I suppose, resistance.

Now, as a civilian, we don’t really know whether there is or there isn’t. There is no way that any of us individually can assess that, and so it would be pure speculation on our part to enter into that. However, we are seeing sabotage to some of the utilities, we’re seeing these random shooting events. Whether they are linked to something organized or not, we don’t know. The fact of the matter is they are occurring.

And so, for us, as civilians, I think it really is going to change certainly for the next month or so the way we go about our business. The reality is it will slow down the progress that we have been making with our Ministry of Agricultural people in trying to stand that ministry up and get it working again. That’s going to slow that progress significantly, and I think it’s just something we’re going to have to be patient and work through.

We will, if the military gets on top of this situation fairly quickly, then I think we can get back to business in the short term. Security is going to become a fairly high priority on all of our lists.

Q: Dr. Penn, the United States set aside a lot of wheat from the Bill Emerson Trust. I think it was around 600,000 tons. To date, very little has been sent over, and USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] has even diverted some of that now to Ethiopia. Is this done with? Is there going to be absolutely no more need for this Bill Emerson Trust, these wheat donations, or is this something we’re keeping open as an option for later?

PENN: Well, as you indicated, the administration opened the Bill Emerson Trust for an “up to” amount for some maximum level that we felt might be needed during the course of this enterprise.

Back when this action was taken, of course, there was no notion as to what the future might hold, and we didn’t have any idea of what the food situation might be there or what we might encounter. So we were being prudent to make available supplies in case we needed them, and the availability was both for Iraq and for Africa, and as it turns out, the crisis in the Horn of Africa became much greater, and so we have been able to use some of the supplies for Africa.

But I think these gentlemen can tell you far better than I, but in terms of wheat and rice, I think most of the needs have been met for the next several months, and so that it’s unlikely that we’ll need any of the Emerson Trust Wheat for the next several months until we look beyond what we can see now and see what the food needs might be.

Q: At the November conclusion of the oil-for-food contracts, what comes next, and what are the prospects for exports of foodstuffs both from the U.S. and Australia?

AMSTUTZ: You are right that the oil-for-food program ends November 21, and a transition has to begin before that to go into a different system. Much of what Trevor and I discussed here today, and during his stay, was this subject with various agencies of the U.S. Government, and we were in constant dialogue with the CPA about this.

We’re not in a position to announce exactly what form that will take, but we hope it begins a transition into a market economy. Let me just put it that way, but the key word here is transition. It can’t happen overnight.

And beyond that, we are quite sure that for the next year or so, in some food items, Iraq will have to depend on some imports, certainly some wheat and some rice. Our hope is that the purchasing is done competitively, in an open way, and that all interested suppliers have a crack at the business.

Q: Would you tell us, please, who is paying you and how much you are being paid. USDA has told reporters how much Mr. Amstutz is being paid. As you know, there are lots of questions from U.S. wheat-growers about this.

And, also, can you tell us, since the Australian aid agency is I believe doing analyses in Iraq and so is USAID, how is all of this being coordinated? Is there also an Iraqi agency to receive them? Are they working with the Iraqi Agriculture Minister? There seem to be so many people, and we’d like to know how it’s coordinated.

FLUGGE: Well, I can assure you the American taxpayer is not paying my bill. That’s the first thing.

No, the Australian Government picks up all of my costs and has contributed significantly to agriculture in Iraq. In fact, let me say to you this, that things like the reconstruction of the current building of the Ministry of Agriculture in central Baghdad is being paid for by the Australian Government. The communication system we’re putting in, the satellite communication system which we’re putting in, is being paid for by the Australian Government. So along with the United States, who is putting in enormous amounts of money, I mean there’s no question about that, and are really making a huge sacrifice to help Iraq on the way.

Australia is doing its part, as part of the Coalition partners. So people like myself and other Australians that are there are being paid for by the Australian Government. The amount of money we’re being paid, let me just say it’s commensurate with the risk that we are undertaking. We are not actually government employees. I’m a private-sector person, and I’m contracted to the Australian Government to carry out this task, and anything that I do and don’t do is confidential information.

I won’t give it to you. So that’s all I’m prepared to say on that.

In terms of coordination, that’s a very good question because we’re all very concerned that the scarce resources that we have, even though it sounds like there’s a lot of money being thrown at this from a lot of different sources, the reality is that it’s a huge issue. I mean, this whole problem of Iraq, we’re dealing with 25 years of neglect. I mean, this regime effectively bankrupted the people of Iraq through mismanagement and misappropriation of funds over the years.

So we’re dealing on behalf of the Iraqi people now with a huge problem, and the sorts of money that people talk about may seem big on paper, but in reality, when you try and put it on the ground, it’s actually quite small, and we’re going to need probably a lot more money to come forward from the international community to help this country get back on its feet and get on the road to recovery.

Of course, it has the potential to get on the road to recovery because it’s a nation that does have huge reserves of oil, huge potential in terms of agriculture because of its water, its lands, and its ability to actually produce. So it’s not a country that’s a basket case. It’s simply been neglected by the previous regime, and the damage that’s been done to that country is enormous.

In terms of coordination, that is always a big concern. And we do everything we possibly can within the ministry, and Dan and myself and the other advisors, to ensure that the aid agencies actually talk to one another. In fact, the previous meeting to this was with the World Bank.

Now, we need at our level some economic advice. And we’ll be seeking to get a couple of economists on the ground just to give us some, you know, quick analysis of the current terms of trade to farmers. Because if we’re going to give advice to a future government and the Iraqi people, we need to know what the situation is. And at the moment, to be quite honest, we’re all guessing. So we need this work done.

That has to dovetail into the sort of work the World Bank are going to do, because they’re looking at the bigger picture. They’re looking at the longer-term future, how Iraq is going to be funded in the future to look and get up to the point where it can look after itself.

So we’re very conscious of that, and all I can say is that, at our level, we’re doing everything we can to coordinate the agencies. And I’m going to say to you now that I think the agencies are being extremely cooperative in this effort. We haven’t found any that are sort of running off doing their own thing or being protective about the work that they’re doing. In fact, quite the opposite. They all realize that we need to work together. And, you know, USAID [was] in Baghdad about two weeks ago. We had meetings with them there. I mean, all the agencies are coming through. The FAO [U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization], we meet with them once a week to work through our issues — the U.N. people that are involved constantly in meetings.

So I think one can be very confident that the communication is actually taking place, and the coordination will flow from that communication.

Q: Trevor, could you just talk a little bit more about how the attacks have slowed down, as you’ve said, the work you’re doing? And has it in any way caused Iraqis who are working with the coalition to have second thoughts or be reluctant to do that sort of work?

FLUGGE: There is a little bit of an issue here, I think, that we have to manage, and that is that there is an inherent fear amongst Iraqis on the street that the coalition might move out and, if they do, these bad people will come back. And the aftermath of the Gulf War was such that — and the things that occurred after that and the reprisals on people were such that they’re very clear in people’s minds. So I think politically we have to keep on reminding them that we are there for the long haul. And in our ministry, I mean, we say to those people, look, we’re not going to abandon you. We are going to be here. We will stand beside you. We’re not going to run the country for you; you have to do that. But we’re here to help you as much as we possibly can to manage through the processes of change that you have to go through.

So you’re quite right. There is a public relations exercise that we go through at the agriculture level, that the CPA is doing a very good job, I believe. I think Jerry Bremmer is working very hard at trying to ensure that the people understand that the coalition and other friendly partners are there for the long haul. But there is that fear. And that fear comes about when, you know, you have a degree of lawlessness on the streets, you have random shootings, you have sabotage events, you have power failures, water failures, and the like.

So this is why it is very important in the next month or two months to get on top of these issues to show that, one, we can control the situation, and two, give that sort of long-term security to people. And we’re right in the middle of that right now. So I don’t think–I don’t downplay that as an issue, but I think it’s an issue that can be managed and we’re doing our part to try and manage that.

Q: How much is the new agricultural ministry building costing, and when will it be finished?

FLUGGE: What actually happened with the buildings, the ministries got their 12 major buildings and numerous warehouses and other buildings around the country. They were all effectively looted and vandalized and, in some cases, sabotaged. Most of it was relatively superficial, like glass and floor coverings and furniture taken and air conditioning systems wiped out and the like. In some cases, where they were burnt, there was structural damage. What we decided to do was, . . . to say, look, let’s get this building up in central Baghdad. Let’s stand it up so that people can physically come back to work.

So we’ve taken that on, the cost of that, to actually physically refit it. And this is in terms of painting, floor coverings, replacement of glass, getting the air conditioning system back up and running again. It will be somewhere between 300-400 thousand U.S. dollars. The actual provision of desks, computers, and the like, will probably be another 300-400 thousand. So I think we’ll probably get out of it for about $800,000. I mean, we’ve got the money sitting there now in Baghdad to do it; we physically brought it in, in cash.

This is very important to show them that we could physically do something. It’s a symbolic gesture. It’s not very much, when you look at the reconstruction bill of Iraq, but it actually shows that’s we’re prepared to get out and do something. And we’ve done it as a team. I mean, you know, it is Australian money, but let me tell you, the people that went and picked it up and carried it back in a bag from Kuwait were our civil affairs guys out of the American Army. So, I mean, we’ve done this together. They took the risk. If anything was going to happen, they had to take it.

We’re doing this, and it’s a great gesture on behalf of the Australian government, but it’s a team effort. In fact, Danny Woodyard, our civil affairs guy who is an attorney, works for USDA out at Little Rock. I mean, he’s an attorney, he drew up the contract, he’s in fact in charge of making sure that that building is completed. And the time span he has for completion is about another two months from today.

So, I mean, we’re working this as a team. We provide the money, he provides the skill and the necessary to make sure it happens.

Q: Now that you’ve talked about all that money over there, I’m definitely going to ask you a security question. When he reports that things deteriorate quite rapidly, when do you make the decision that it’s just too dangerous for you and your team to go there, since you stress that you’re not military. When do you make that call, and have you thought about making that call?

FLUGGE: Oh, well, I think we can be there. I mean, basically, where all the people involved in the CPA live and essentially work in offices is a very secure zone. I mean, we have a few Abrams tanks and all these sorts of military things that I’m not really familiar with, but I mean, that part of it is quite secure. We don’t actually have a problem. The problem is where you have to get out and interact with the Iraqi people. You can actually bring Iraqi people into what is the convention center. In fact, initially this is what used to happen. You — because it was too dangerous to go out, and uncertain, what you did was arrange for these people to come into the convention center. There’s a whole range of meeting rooms there so that you could actually have your meeting. That’s exactly what we’ll do. Our management committee and people that we need to see, we’ll say, well, look, we can’t travel out there anymore today or this week, why don’t you guys come in.

I don’t think that we’ve even considered pulling our team out or anything like that. It hasn’t reached the point where, you know, all of a sudden we’re going to have another war on our hands. It’s just uncertainty in the streets.

Having said that, I’ve advised our team to make sure that they do take the necessary security precautions that are in place, and we’ll deal with it that way.

Q: Given the security problems, do either of you meet regularly or consistently with farmers and, if so, what is it they’re telling you about what they need?

AMSTUTZ: It’s pretty much as Trevor has explained it. Initially, as he said, the problem of getting out of Baghdad was a small one, and he and Lee covered much of the territory in the north. And they had what sounds like a marvelous meeting with rice farmers south of Baghdad. And no question, from those kinds of meetings you learn a lot. And you’ve heard each of us say at one time or another, or one way or another, that we viewed getting out and talking with farmers an enormously important part of our function of ours. And that’s more difficult now. There’s just no question about it. And there are just a limited number of military people that can go along in convoys.

So we are very hopeful that this situation improves quickly. We are confident that it’s being addressed, and we just hope it moves along quickly, because we really do want that contact with farmers. As Trevor has said, and you’ll hear me say frequently, too, that we’re to facilitate doing what the Iraqis perceive is necessary. It’s their country, their agriculture. And so we want to hear from them.

FLUGGE: Well, we actually had a very good meeting a few weeks ago. We went down to Najaf, which is a town about 200 kilometers south of Baghdad. And it’s a rice-growing area. Now, one of the issues that we have, of course, is the Ministry of Agriculture historically provided a lot of the imports — fertilizer, chemicals, and all that

– – at very reduced rates. Because of all the looting that occurred, a lot of our warehouses were literally bare. I mean, we didn’t physically have the inputs to provide to these rice farmers. So we had to go down and literally say to them, look, we’re sorry, but, you know, this is one occasion where you’re going to have to do the best you possibly can. And it’s not a good message.

So there were about 150, I think that’s right. What both of us said at the meeting was if they closed their eyes and listened to what was going on, the only difference between going to a farmer’s meeting in Kansas or in [inaudible] Australia, my hometown, was they spoke in different languages. But all the characters were there, all the problems were exactly the same. They’re [against] the former government, they’re [against] the new government. The prices are not high enough and the cost of imports are too high. And frankly, it’s about time you guys, instead of coming down here, why don’t you earn your money and get out and sort the problem out for us.

So, I mean, it was really no different to the problems we have here. Farmers are the same the world over. I told them that afterwards. I said, look, you know, you guys are exactly the same as what we deal with within our own countries.

So, you know, that’s interesting, though, because it means that at least people like Dan and myself and Lee that have had, you know, the opportunity over the years to deal with farmers and to deal with the problems of farmers, that we’re not dealing with anything different here. The needs, the wants of these people, their love of the land, their love of agriculture, their commitment to their country, their pride is exactly the same as what you’d have here in the United States, exactly the same as what you’ll have in Australia and other parts of the world.

That means it seems like change is not easy. People don’t respond quickly to change. That’s why, when we talk about moving agriculture from this very heavily subsidized type structure that they currently have to a fully open market where they have to live on their wits, we’re not going to be able to do that overnight. If we try and do it overnight, the reaction will be very, very strong against that. We’ll be battling to manage the politics. And the politics are going to be very important in the future of Iraq because politicians are going to be elected from the rural areas. And if the rural people are unhappy, the government will be far less stable than it should be.

So we actually have to be able to advise these people on how we can move agriculture from this very dysfunctional state that they’re currently in — and, quite frankly, unaffordable in the future — to something that is a truly market-based system that can be a positive contributor to their economy. But you can’t do that overnight.

So it’s a real challenge, I think, for people like Dan and myself. And obviously our team can try and devise mechanisms that will set them on the road to this change, and hopefully, you know, they’ll be able to achieve it down the track. But we can’t do it quickly. It’s going to take time.

And the other pressures that come on, of course, are the Treasury people that say, Trevor, we have no money, you’re going to have to do something. And we have to say, well, okay, let’s talk about this because we’re going to need some time and you’re going to have to give us some time. The international community [is] going to have to give us time. You just cannot make the changes rapidly. That’s what the agricultural farmers are like.

And I think that’s a — it’s actually a very healthy situation, because it means you’ve got the basis there for a very good future agricultural industry, if we can get it right.

Q: Based on what you’ve said, all of the logistical and the infrastructure problems and the difficulty of getting supplies to producers, how do you assess now the prospects for this market in terms of its size and potential of the future once you get past some of these hurdles. In May, after the war, I believe, Ambassador Amstutz was saying that he saw this as a possibly smaller wheat market, for example, because of greater self-sufficiency. Minister Vale was saying it might be a bigger market with more opportunities for all competitors.

Today, how do you view the situation in terms of the long-term prospects for market potential?

FLUGGE: Well, let me say this about the long-term prospects. This country has got huge potential for economic growth. And I think if it can find ways of establishing a very stable government, which obviously the coalition will be doing everything they can to encourage, if they are given the opportunity by the international community to resolve some of these relatively short-term financial issues that they’re currently facing, if we can provide, you know, sound advice and sow the seeds of a truly market-driven economy with all the opportunities that that can bring, then I think this country will be a very strong, vibrant economy within the Middle East.

Now, what comes with that are trading opportunities for all of us. And, you know, I wouldn’t like to predict or even try to predict whether that will be more or less than currently is imported into Iraq. But all I’m going to say is that if we, as Australia and the United States, want to have a strong trading partner in the future, we need to sow those seeds now. And if we can build their economy and help them grow their country the way it should be able to grow, and make them prosperous, they will be good trading partners with all of us. And frankly, out of that will come great trading opportunities for the future. And we’ll all be involved in that.

So clearly, in my mind, the important thing is now to make the investment. And I think in the long term we will all benefit from that.

Q: Earlier in the conversation from the original conferences with Mr. Amstutz, we have discussed the outstanding debt. Can you tell us how that’s being addressed and what implications that has for future trading opportunities?

And then also to Mr. Amstutz and Mr. Flugge, could you typify what kind of discussions you’ve had with World Bank, and what role they will play in rebuilding financial infrastructure?

PENN: I don’t think there’s a lot of new information that I can tell you beyond what we knew at the time. I think that the amounts of debt that we talked about are pretty much the same. The interagency group, a team led by Treasury, is examining the Iraqi debt situation and they’re evaluating how best to handle this. And it’s going to involve the Paris Club and the London Club and debt restructurings and all of these things. So a lot of that is being looked at, is being examined. But as far as I know, there’s nothing new to report beyond what we said at the earlier time.

AMSTUTZ: And the World Bank is in the process of conducting what they call needs assessments in a number of industry areas. I think they mentioned today 14 industry areas covering the full gamut of investor-like activity in Iraq. They’re pointing toward a date in October when there will be a more formal donors conference in the U. N. in New York. And needless to say, an up-to-date, impartial, objective, hopefully accurate assessment of needs will be a very important ingredient in that discussion.

Concurrent with World Bank developing that information, the CPA in Baghdad is working on the 2004 budget. You just saw released, I think today, in the Wall Street Journal some 2003 budget figures. They’re working on the 2004 budget. And these are the two major ingredients that will be presented to the participants at the donors meeting in New York. And that will be a very important meeting. As Trevor has said, more money is needed. And we’re going to have to find it.

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