Thursday, May 3, 2007

Iraq Security Conference

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

The conference to secure and relieve Iraq of its' financial burdens kicked off today in Sharm El Sheikh with opening remarks and a look at the agenda:

Foreign ministers and top diplomats from more than 50 countries gathered in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh to launch a five-year plan aimed at stabilizing war-torn Iraq. Participants were Thursday expected to adopt the International Compact with Iraq (ICI), a five-year plan to stabilize the war-torn country and develop its moribund economy. In his opening remarks, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki said that he hoped that the conference "will herald a new level in Iraq's relations with the world's nations." He voiced his hope that the meeting would yield significant progress on both the economic and security fronts. Iraq's finance minister Bayan Jabr Solagh said before the conference kicked off that he expected countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt to write off about $40 billion to $50 billion of debt at the meeting.
Iraqi officials also said that they hoped that the conference would see their neighbors offer a strong commitment to stabilizing their country, plagued by a bloody anti-American insurgency and relentless communal bloodletting.

-U.S Secretary of State Condolezza Rice will be one of the busier representatives at the conference: Rice Meets Maliki, Rice To Meet Syrian FM, and the possibility of talks with the Iranian FM should all develop interestingly.

-Secretary Rice downplays expectations for the conference.

-Iraqi's are not expecting much either, according to this report.

-Iran, Iraq FM's meet before the conference.

Update: Attendees agree to UN-sponsored plan (International Compact with Iraq) to boost Iraqi economy.

Update 2: Secretary Rice, FM Mottaki had a brief exchange (according to a spokesman for the State Department, the two said "hello" to each other).

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