Speaking after the French delegation’s meeting with the Iraqi team – led by the rotating head of the interim Governing Council (GC), Abdel Aziz al-Hakim – the French Foreign Affairs Minister, Dominique de Villepin, said: ‘France, together with other creditors, believes there could be an agreement in 2004.’ Villepin said that, despite France’s objection to the war in Iraq, it was ready to play a full role in humanitarian efforts in Iraq.

Bush on 5 December appointed former secretary of state, James Baker, as his personal envoy to oversee talks on Iraq’s debt and debt rescheduling. ‘This debt endangers Iraq’s long-term prospects for political health and economic prosperity – The issue of Iraq’s debt must be resolved in a manner that is fair and does not unjustly burden a struggling nation at its moment of hope and promise,’ Bush said after appointing Baker (MEED 5:12:03).