UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 23 October opened the Iraq donors' conference in Madrid with an appeal to those attending to give as much as possible during the two-day event. 'We all look forward to the earliest possible establishment of a sovereign Iraqi government but a start on reconstruction cannot be deferred until that day,' Annan said in his opening speech. Senior coalition and Iraqi politicians have urged countries to give generously, even if they did not agree with the US-led invasion. 'There have been last-minute attempts to ramp up the money, and all the pressure has been on the EU,' said a senior Iraqi official.
About 60 countries, 19 international organisations, more than 220 companies and 13 non-governmental groups are attending the conference, which aims to raise as much money as possible for the reconstruction effort in Iraq. Many countries have said that they will not donate money to a country with such large untapped economic reserves (MEED 21:10:03).