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Remarks to the Iraq Reconstruction Donor Conference

John W. Snow, Treasury Secretary
Madrid, Spain
October 24, 2003

Thank you, Secretary Powell.  Let me second Secretary Powell's appreciation for our Spanish hosts, the European Commission, and all attending this conference in support of the Iraqi people.

Last week, the Iraqi people saw the release of the new Iraqi dinar, notably free of the tyrant's visage.  The 25,000 dinar note depicts the Babylonian King Hammurabi.  Hammurabi wrote the first known code of law.  The 10,000 dinar note shows Abu Ali Hasan, the medieval philosopher of Basra who first explained the workings of light and vision.  The rule of law, light and vision are fitting symbols for the new Iraq.

It is a hopeful time in Iraq.  There have been great strides in building infrastructure and in building the institutions of self-government.  Momentum is growing for international donor support.

But this is also a perilous time.  Those who would return Iraq to chaos and darkness still lurk, though their reach is ever shorter, their days numbered and few.  The outcome of this conference must show that the international community cares about the fate of the Iraqi people.  We must tip the balance irrevocably toward law and light.

Iraq had been plundered and mismanaged for a quarter-century preceding the coalition victory this spring.  During Hussein's rule, Iraqi national income collapsed, falling by more than two-thirds.  A prospering people were impoverished.  The obliteration of the old regime was the first step toward reconstruction.

Now, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are taking further steps toward reconstruction, leading a transition to responsible, self-determined government.  Our goal, as international partners of the Iraqi people, must be to speed the democratic and economic institutions that will allow the Iraqis to achieve their potential as a nation.

Today, it is time for nations to join together to contribute to a free and democratic Iraq.  I am pleased that the United States Congress this week is working to approve $20 billion in assistance for Iraq's reconstruction needs.

Many nations represented here today have also made commitments to support the Iraqi people.  Every contribution counts and not all contributions are financial.  Technical advice, personnel, and assistance in-kind all move Iraq toward independent, self-sustaining growth and stability.

Nor do we expect the entire cost of reconstruction to come from abroad.  As the Iraqi economy begins to stand on its own legs, domestic growth and market forces will accelerate the reconstruction.  Prompt, generous donations today will help the Iraqi economy regain its feet, reducing the total cost to donors and Iraqis alike.

It is clear on the ground in Iraq that progress has been great.  But the needs are also great, and urgent.  Only ongoing, measurable progress for ordinary Iraqis - jobs, incomes, basic services and security - will illuminate the shadows of tyranny and extremism, and extinguish them forever.

Please join us in supporting the Iraqi people, as they reclaim their birthrights of law and light in a secure, prosperous and democratic land.   

Thank you.

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