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  Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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International conference on Iraq opened in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh Thursday
An international conference on Iraq opened in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh Thursday, and its participants intend to adopt an agreement on assistance to Iraq. The document is a detailed plan of action for the Iraqi government for the coming five years, aimed at building a united democratic state with a powerful economy and stable security situation. In particular, the agreement specifies donor countries' commitments to render assistance to Iraq in exchange for political and economic reforms carried out by Baghdad and a security improvement. Delegations from 60 countries, most of them represented at the foreign ministerial level, are participating. The UN secretary general, the Arab League head and the EU high representative for foreign policy are also taking part in the conference. Alexander Saltanov, a deputy foreign minister, is representing Russia. Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hisham al-Naqib said earlier that the deal, drafted by the Iraqi government, the United Nations and the World Bank, is expected to offer Iraq international assistance in return for economic, political and security reforms, such as making material progress on security within five years. "The initiative is aimed at establishing a partnership between the Iraqi government and the international community," al-Naqib said. On Wednesday, U.S. President George Bush vetoed a congressional bill linking $124.2 billion in additional military funding to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by a deadline of April 1, 2008. Speaking at the White House during a special televised broadcast, Bush called the congressional bill unacceptable, adding that it was only the second time in six and a half years that he had to use the presidential right to veto. "Setting a deadline for the withdrawal [of troops] would be setting a date for failure," he said, adding that it would demoralize Iraqis and give a signal to the Middle East that America will not keep its commitments. At preliminary consultations in Sharm-el-Sheikh, the participants of the prospective meeting in Egypt agreed not to include the troops withdrawal item into a draft final statement, the Egyptian news agency MENA quoted a high-ranking diplomat as saying Wednesday. Earlier, an Iraqi government representative said Baghdad is against including the item into the statement because foreign troop withdrawal is only possible after Iraqi security forces can take responsibility for law and order. Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, permanent UN Security Council members and G8 members are expected to attend the ministerial meeting.
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