U.S. urges help for Iraq, extends $3 billion Ex-Im credit line

(Reuters, Kuwait, 13 February 018) The United States has urged members of the coalition fighting Islamic State to help rebuild Iraq or risk a reversal of the gains made against the group. Secretary of State Tillerson said the official U.S. export credit agency, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), would sign a $3 billion memorandum of understanding with Iraq’s finance ministry “that will set a stage for future cooperation”. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose government puts the costs of reconstruction at more than $88 billion, said Iraq could not rebuild without outside help.  Iraq received pledges of $30 billion, mostly in credit facilities and investment, on Wednesday from allies but this fell short of the $88 billion Baghdad says it needs to recover from three years of war. Officials say almost $23 billion is needed for short-term reconstruction and over $65 billion in the medium term. UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner told Reuters Iraq might have been unable to attract more pledges due to its association with corruption. Investors see Iraq as the 10th most corrupt country, according to Transparency International.