Iraq Neighbors Pledge Billions to Baghdad for IS Group Recovery

Iraq Neighbors Pledge Billions to Baghdad for IS Group Recovery

Iraq Neighbors Pledge Billions to Baghdad for IS Group Recovery

UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched the Iraq Recovery and Resilience Programme today at the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said $1 billion will be in the form of loans, and the rest will be invested in projects in the war-battered country.

The war against the extremist group devastated homes, schools, hospitals, economic infrastructure and displaced more than 5 million people.

Saudi Arabia will provide $1bn through its Saudi Fund for Development and $500m in export credit, Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told the conference, which ends later on Wednesday. Saddam was later toppled by the 2003 USA invasion. Iraq also still owes Kuwait reparations from Saddam's 1990 invasion that sparked the 1991 USA -led Gulf War.

The announcement is in many ways stunning - many at the gathering in Kuwait remember how Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait only a generation ago.

The destruction was heaviest in Mosul, where coalition airstrikes and extremist suicide auto bombs destroyed homes and government buildings. Only half of them have returned to their home towns.

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Iraqi officials estimate that the biggest chunk of the money needed, around $17 billion, is required exclusively to rebuild homes.

"Reconstruction is not just about rebuilding infrastructure-it's about improving people's lives", said United Nations' Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande.

The United States and the United Nations say that failure to help Iraq rebuild could lead to a reversal in gains made against IS there, as the conditions that kindled sectarian alienation and bloodshed, allowing militants to take over, would remain.

However, the USA has offered an over $3 billion package for Iraq from the Export-Import Bank of the United States. That money would include loans, loan guarantees and insurance devices to encourage American investment in Iraq. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended the meeting, but skipped a group photograph held before.

Qatar, meanwhile, remains boycotted by four Arab nations, including three in the Gulf, which has split the typically clubby relations among the nations.

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