US urges IMF, World Bank involvement in Iraq reconstruction

11 April 2003
The US on 10 April urged the IMF and World Bank to become involved in Iraq's post-war reconstruction, but both expressed unwillingness to do so until a new government was endorsed by the UN. US Treasury Secretary John Snow said in a televised interview that the two institutions had a 'vital role to play in the reconstruction of Iraq,' and encouraged them to 'be prepared to offer their expertise and technical assistance as soon as possible'. However, World Bank President James Wolfensohn told a press conference that a UN-recognised government would have to be in place before the organisation did any work in Iraq; 'We have to have somebody to repay the money,' he said. Wolfensohn also said that a legal team was looking at whether the World Bank could go in earlier to make a technical assessment. Snow professed himself baffled by these qualms, but Wolfensohn said that he had not yet received any formal request to play a role in Iraq.

IMF managing director Horst Koehler said in an 11 April interview with London's Financial Times that an explicit UN resolution was not necessary for the fund to become involved in Iraq, but that a post-war regime would need to have international legitimacy. 'In principle, in order to exercise our mandate, we do not need a mandate from the UN,' said Koehler. 'We need legitimacy and I hope after war is ended that this legitimacy is there so that we can act.' He also called on the US not to draw international institutions into political arguments. 'I appeal to the leaders to keep the IMF and World Bank out of this dispute and allow us to become active on the basis of our legitimacy.'

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