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Only Coalition Countries Allowed to Bid on Iraqi Contracts

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2003 – Only nations committed to Operation Iraqi Freedom may bid on contracts to rebuild Iraq, Pentagon officials said today.

Nations that are not part of the coalition cannot serve as prime contractors for any of the $18.6 billion in reconstruction funds provided by Congress as part of the fiscal 2004 Defense supplemental spending bill.

The administration had three choices: It could limit bids to only U.S. firms, it could open the bids to all nations or it could limit bids in some fashion, said Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita. "There are countries that made a commitment to Iraq in a certain way," Di Rita said. "They said, 'We're out publicly believing in Iraq; we're providing forces to Iraq.' We've said, 'Let's decide to allow them to compete as prime contractors.'

"These countries made a commitment," he continued. "They're with us. They've been with us since the beginning. It wasn't easy to be with us from the beginning, and we know that. These countries want to be identified as part of the coalition."

Di Rita said leaders at the State Department and the Defense Department, in consultation with coalition administrator L. Paul Bremer III agreed this was the best way forward.

Di Rita said the $18.6 billion is just one element of Iraqi reconstruction. "Ultimately, there will be direct foreign investment that has nothing to do with appropriated funds," Di Rita said. Other money is coming in to rebuild Iraq via the Madrid Donors Conference. He said about $15 billion has been raised this way. All this goes to fund the approximately $55 billion in reconstruction needed in the country.

Di Rita said it makes sense to limit the bidding process to coalition countries. "To show the political will to be part of something very important in Iraq isn't free," he said. "Those countries have to make that determination and reflect their publics' opinion or try and affect their publics' opinion. That takes political will and sometimes just standing up and saying 'We're in this coalition because we believe in the cause.'"

Di Rita said the coalition is open to new countries. "There are countries that are considering, for example, the contribution of forces to Iraq," he said. "If a country decides to contribute forces to Iraq, they would immediately be eligible for consideration."

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