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Iraq seeks Arab debt forgiveness as summit opens

BAGHDAD - Iraq asked countries at an Arab League summit on Tuesday to forgive its pre-invasion debts, urging others to follow the United Arab Emirates and Algeria which have already agreed to write off what they were owed by their fellow OPEC member.
"We've asked Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt and Morocco to help Iraq in closing up its debt situation," Iraqi Finance Minister Rafie al-Esawi said on the first day of the summit, the first to take place in post-war Baghdad.
The Paris Club of 19 rich creditor nations agreed in 2004 to write off 80 percent of some $40 billion debt to help Iraq recover from the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted President Saddam Hussein but triggered years of violence and insecurity.
Debt forgiveness talks with non-Paris Club nations are still under way.
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