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Armitage: Remarks at Iraq Donors Conference

Remarks at Iraq Donors Conference
Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State
Tokyo, Japan
October 14, 2004

Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, for allowing me the opportunity to speak today. And I want to thank the leadership of Japan for acting once again with compassion and resolve to call the world together. Indeed, this is a nation with a proud track record of putting the concept of "human security" into practice, from Sudan and Timor-Leste to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Mr. Minister, honored colleagues, for thirty years, Iraq was a criminal enterprise more than it was a country. And yet millions of men and women survived that degradation with their spirits intact. We just heard from two of them. Moreover, today, Deputy Prime Minster Saleh and Minister al-Hafedh are putting their lives on the line to reclaim their country for all its citizens.

Since taking office on June 28th, the Iraqi Interim Government has shown such resolve, a remarkable unity of purpose, and a clear commitment to Iraq's transformation. Indeed, people across Iraq are joining town councils, signing up for security forces, and working on reconstruction projects. They do so knowing that for all those who wish them only success, there is one who will kill to see them fail. I am humbled, my country is humbled, by their courage and their commitment.

In turn, many of the countries and institutions represented here today have made a commitment to the people of Iraq. Prime Minister Allawi told the UN General Assembly last month that the financial assistance pledged in Madrid would fuel critical reforms and development projects. He also said the aid "would create an atmosphere of optimism that would allow us to leave the past totally behind us." The United States will stand by our commitment for as long as it takes to succeed. We have disbursed a total of $3 billion in reconstruction assistance so far, which is a great deal of money, but only a small amount when we consider the total $18.4 billion we pledged in Madrid. We understand the urgency of the moment, so we are picking up the pace. Indeed, in the last 12 weeks alone, we have disbursed nearly $1 billion.

As the Prime Minister told us and as we heard again today, the first priority of the IIG is to secure the country, so that other reconstruction efforts can succeed. Ultimately, though, the security situation will only see lasting improvement when Iraq assumes responsibility for self-defense. That is the primary reason why the United States is shifting our focus to the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces at this time. We are also shifting resources into the immediate generation of income, both for individual Iraqis and for the Government of Iraq. This includes funds to help alleviate Iraq's crippling debt burden. Indeed, representatives from many of our governments will meet on this score in the Paris Club this week. We wish them well. Comprehensive debt relief will not alone revive the fortunes of Iraq, but the fact is that Iraq's fortunes cannot revive without it. In addition, we hear from Iraqis across the country that it is absolutely essential for elections to stay on schedule, so we have moved more funds into democracy and governance support, as well. We believe that such quick improvements in security, coupled with political and economic enfranchisement, will help create that critical "atmosphere of optimism."

On the other hand, for any success in security and short-term economic and political gains to endure, the broader investment in Iraq needs to continue, as well. As Deputy Prime Minister Saleh and Minister al-Hafedh made clear, Iraq's needs are vast, and the human cost of failing to meet them are high. I urge you all to consider their appeal, especially concerning the electricity and water sectors. And I hope that in the course of this conference, we will find a way to proceed together, with generosity and alacrity, to help the people of Iraq through this historic transformation.

Thank you.

[End]

Released on October 14, 2004


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