Philippines to pledge $1M for Iraq reconstruction

THE PHILIPPINES is to pledge one million dollars for the reconstruction of war-torn Iraq at a donors' meeting in Spain this week, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

The Philippine Embassy in Baghdad had relayed Manila's pledge to the US-supervised provisional authority in Iraq as early as last month, the sources said.

It is not clear where the government, which is saddled by a huge budget deficit, will get the money, the sources said, adding that Manila may tap the private sector to help raise the funds.

The US, Spain, European Union and other countries and institutions are to hold a two-day conference in Madrid from Thursday to help Baghdad recover following the ousting of strongman Saddam Hussein by American-led forces.

The Philippine delegation to the meeting is to be headed by Roberto Romulo, a senior adviser to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and other foreign affairs officials.

The delegation will explore how the private sector here "can best contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq," the sources said.

Ms Macapagal is a staunch supporter of the US-led invasion of Iraq and her government has already dispatched a 96-member humanitarian team to assist rehabilitation efforts there.


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