07/07/2008, 00.00
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UAE cancels Iraqi debt and promotes country's reconstruction

The Emirates have decided to write off their loans to Baghdad and reestablish a permanent diplomatic representation, emphasising the relationship of "brotherhood and solidarity". The first signs of the end of Iraqi isolation within the Arab world.

Dubai (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The United Arab Emirates have decided to cancel 7 billion dollars that the government of Baghdad would have had to repay, between interest and back payments. The leadership of the Emirates made the announcement on the occasion of the official visit of Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki. According to a local news agency, sheikh Khalifah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, president of the UAE, emphasises that "the decision to cancel the debts accumulated by Iraq is an expression of brotherhood and solidarity between the two countries and is to help the Iraqi government carry out its reconstruction and rehabilitation plans". In the last three years, the international community has eliminated more than 60 billion of the 120 billion dollars of foreign debt accumulated by Baghdad.

At the same time, the Emirates are planning to send a new ambassador to Baghdad, a decision aimed at mitigating Iraqi diplomatic isolation on the part of the Arab world, following the American invasion and the escalation of violence. Since 2005, after the kidnapping and killing of the Egyptian ambassador, no ambassador from the Arab countries has remained in Iraq on a permanent basis. The UAE withdrew their representative in May of 2006, in response to the kidnapping of an embassy employee for two weeks by Islamic fundamentalists.

For Iraq, other positive signs are coming from the Arab community, including the upcoming visits of King Abdullah of Jordan (the first Arab head of state to set foot again in Iraq after the beginning of the war, in March of 2003) and of Turkish prime minister Erdogan. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have also been promising for some time to reestablish their diplomatic representation.

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