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Bulk of Iraq Reconstruction Monies 'Will Come From Iraqis,' Rumsfeld Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2003 – The American taxpayer will not have to foot the entire bill for rebuilding post-Saddam Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

The $20 billion for Iraqi security and reconstruction contained within President Bush's $87 billion supplemental budget proposal for fiscal 2004 now before Congress "is not intended to cover all of Iraq's needs," Rumsfeld noted to reporters at a Pentagon press conference.

"The bulk of the funds for Iraq's reconstruction will come from Iraqis," explained Rumsfeld, who was accompanied at the briefing by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Iraqis will pay for the rebuilding of their country, the defense secretary noted, through oil revenues, recovered assets, international trade, direct foreign investments and contributions from the international community.

In fact, Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters at the Foreign Press Center here earlier today that an international donors conference for Iraq reconstruction is on track to be held Oct. 23-24 in Madrid.

"We're in touch with all our friends and allies now, encouraging everyone to make as large a contribution as they can," Powell said. "The World Bank will be giving its estimate out. We've asked for $20 billion on top of the monies we've already spent.

"I wouldn't expect that the international community could match that number," Powell continued, "but we hope they will do the best they can."

Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon that Iraqi oil revenues alone are projected to reach as much as $20 billion annually in a few years -- dependent upon infrastructure improvements.

However, "today Iraq is not generating anywhere near enough income to provide for its own security or to get on a path of self reliance without some help," the defense secretary declared.

The $20 billion within the president's proposal will be used for repairs and upgrades to Iraq's electric and water systems, security projects, "plus some other items," Rumsfeld explained.

Myers noted that "every piece" of the president's proposed $87 billion supplemental budget "adds to the security of Iraq."

While U.S. and coalition forces and Iraqis taking on responsibilities in the country continue to face challenges in post-Saddam Iraq -- to include fending off attacks by remaining regime loyalists and radical Islamic insurgents -- Myers asserted "numerous successes" have been achieved in Iraq since the end of major combat operations was declared May 1.

For example, the general noted, power production in Iraq increased to 3,900 megawatts on Sept. 30, up from 3,300 megawatts of electricity produced at the end of August.

Today, Iraqis can choose from among 160 different newspapers to get their news, Myers pointed out, as well as from radio and television outlets.

And "Iraqi citizens are turning in former regime loyalists who are working against the future of Iraq," the general noted.

More and more Iraqis, he continued, are providing U.S. and coalition officials with tips being used to thwart subversive activities.

Iraqi women, the general pointed out, "now have free access to all university courses for the first time."

Medical care continues to improve across Iraq, Myers said, noting that now "every hospital in Baghdad is open."

U.S. and coalition forces continue to conduct antisubversive operations in Iraq, Myers reported. On Oct. 1 he noted that a patrol wounded, chased and captured two anticoalition individuals in the Baghdad area who were planning to fire a mortar.

Myers noted that a search of the individuals' nearby neighborhood hideout uncovered 12 other Iraqis. And, the general continued, two trucks filled with rockets were found along nearby side streets, including a detonation device and two more individuals.

On Oct. 1 the first call was made from Mosul to Baghdad using the restored fiber-optic telephone network, Myers said.

Border security has improved in recent weeks, Myers reported, especially along Iraq's western border with Syria, where foreign terrorists have been suspected of crossing into Iraq.

And in conjunction with U.S and coalition forces, Iraqis are protecting the country's oil infrastructure, the general noted.

"The sooner the Iraqis can defend their own people and generate revenue," Rumsfeld pointed out, "the sooner they will be self-reliant and not dependent on either foreign troops or international assistance."

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