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Remarks at the Iraq Reconstruction Donors' Conference

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Palacio de Congresos
Madrid, Spain
October 24, 2003

Thank you very much. Madam Chair, Mr. President and members of the Governing Council, the 89 heads of the delegations who are present here today, on behalf of President Bush and the American people, Treasury Secretary Snow and I wish are very pleased to be here and wish to express our deep gratitude to President Aznar and Foreign Minster Palacio for their hard work in organizing this donors' conference, along with the other members of the core group who are present today. I would like to express my deep appreciation and admiration for the presentations we've heard so far this morning, and especially the presentations from Chris Patten and Mr. Wolfensohn and Horst Kohler and a very moving presentation that was just provided by Mark Mallock Brown, on behalf of the United Nations and following up Kofi Annan's strong presentation yesterday. And I'd also like to thank President Alawi and Mr. Pachachi and Foreign Minister Zubari for giving us a sense of their vision for a new Iraq.

Distinguished colleagues, all of us are here today to make a strategic investment in hope. We are here to demonstrate our strong support for the Iraqi people and our deep commitment to help them build a new Iraq. Saddam Hussein's republic of fear is gone. Iraq's precious resources are no longer being squandered on pleasure palaces or on weapons. What remains, as you have heard this morning, is the colossal wreckage of three decades of monstrous misrule by a regime that was as corrupt as it was cruel. But what endures, what you are seeing here demonstrated today, unbroken and proud, is the spirit of the Iraqi people as represented by the 128 Iraqi members of the delegation who have traveled so far to be with us.

We have come here to Madrid to join them, for all of us to come together to help the people of Iraq overcome Saddam Hussein's bitter legacy of oppression. The unanimous passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511 has brought the international community together once again in support of this historic effort. Success will take time, and hard work and generous assistance from all of us. And we must get started now.

The Iraqi people will long remember the assistance we'll provide them at this critical moment of challenge and hope. I am most impressed by conversations I have had with the Iraqi delegation, which includes 15 ministers, cabinet ministers and five members of the Governing Council. And I encourage all of you, not just to sit here and listen to their speeches this morning, but to seek them out in the course of the day and listen to their passion and their commitment. They can tell you better than any one else of Iraq's needs, but also of their determined plans for Iraq's future.

Iraqis are taking charge of their own affairs now, moving steadily toward the day when they can exercise fully their sovereignty over their nation. Iraqis are starting to conduct their own foreign relations. Iraqis are running their own education, health and electrical services. For the first time in three decades, normalcy is returning to the daily lives of the vast majority of Iraqis.

I do not minimize the concerns about the current security environment, about which much has been said already. Because in today's Iraq, we do see what President Bush has called "…the clearest of divides: between those who seek order, and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change, and those who adopt the methods of gangsters…" We and our coalition partners are determined to root out Saddam's lethal remnants and to eliminate the terrorist elements who have come into the country to sow chaos and fear.

With international help, Iraqis are strengthening their police forces and building a new Iraqi army. The Iraqis are doing their part. Now it is time for us to invest in their hopes and in their dreams. The Iraqi people are staking their future on constitutional government, open markets and reintegration into the world community.

They need our help. A strong showing of support from this conference will speed reconstruction and hasten the day when Iraqis can assume full responsibility for their nation. There are many practical ways to support Iraq's reconstruction, and you've heard many of them touched on by previous speakers. This is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each donor will find its own way to contribute. But whatever form your support may take, it must be substantial, because Iraq's requirements over the next few years are very substantial.

We now have international consensus of what is needed to move Iraq forward. As you have heard, it is estimated that Iraq's long-term development needs amounts to as much as 56 billion dollars over the period of time that has been mentioned by Mark Mallock Brown. We did not come here to Madrid to raise 55 billion or 56 billion dollars in one conference, and as you've also heard Iraqis, as they develop their infrastructure again, as they come back into the international community, will be contributing revenue to satisfy this need over time. But this donors' conference is an important step toward meeting that goal. And I am confident that when the day is done the world will see that we have come together and made a substantial contribution to that goal. Our contributions today, and in the months and years ahead, can give the Iraqi people a new start.

This money can provide schools for their children, hospitals for the sick, telephones that work and roads and bridges to travel and do business on, help them build their security forces and repair the oil and power infrastructure that is so vital for them to be able to eventually pay their own way. It gives them the infrastructure of opportunity.

This investment can help the Iraqi people make a clean break from the misrule of the past. It will help them create an honest, open and responsible government - free of corruption and rooted in the rule of law.

Good governance will provide business entrepreneurs an opportunity, a solid opportunity. Iraq's unprecedented economic reforms, on top of good governance, will make the country a good place for Iraqi and foreign businesses to prosper. In addition, the private sector will play an essential role in Iraq's reconstruction through trade, investment and other economic activity. The private sector conference being held here in Madrid, alongside this donors' conference, is an important conference because it is investment, trade and the creation of real jobs through investment and trade is what ultimately must be our goal, and not just the provision of aid.

My colleagues, the high hopes of the Iraqi people hang on the strength of our support. It is up to us to help the Iraqi people achieve the end we all seek: an Iraq renewed and reengaged
with the rest of the world. Now is the time for all of us to be generous with money, with training, with opportunity.

The American people are willing to be generous. President Bush requested our Congress to appropriate $20.3 billion for this vital cause in a supplemental appropriation. This amount is unprecedented, yet already each house of Congress has approved this amount. Before this day is over here in Madrid, we will have pledged the largest amount by far, ever, of any donors' conference that has been held.

That is good, because now is the time that we can all help the Iraqi people shape an Iraq that is diverse and democratic. Now is the time to help them build an Iraq that is a prosperous and peaceful member of the region, a model for the region, and a peaceful member of the international community. Now is the time to help them build an Iraq that is worthy of its citizen's highest hopes, and ours.

Thank you very much.

(approximately 10:40 local time)

Released on October 24, 2003

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