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Ministers to Skip Iraq Donors' Conference

Germany has repeatedly said it will neither donate more money nor troops to Iraqi reconstruction. Berlin won't even send any cabinet members to the international donors' conference for Iraq on Thursday in Madrid.

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Iraq: In dire need of money, which probably won't come from Germany

Other appointments besides the Iraq donors' conference have priority for Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul on Thursday. Fischer was not interested in the two-day meeting, according to a report in Der Spiegel newsmagazine, and Wieczorek-Zeul wanted to be present in parliament, a spokeswoman told The Associated Press. Instead, she planned to send State Secretary Erich Stather to the Spanish capital.

The Development Ministry stressed the government wasn't boycotting the conference.

On Thursday and Friday, Spain will host up to 68 countries, 19 international organizations and 11 aid organizations at the conference, which will focus on collecting financial aid for war-devastated Iraq. The World Bank and the United Nations have estimated that Iraq will need around $35.6 billion (€30.7 billion) for reconstruction until 2007.

More money from Germany after all?

Heidemarie Wieszorek-Zeul, Rundfunkrat, Deutsche Welle

German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul will go to the Bundestag instead of to Madrid

Germany and France have emphasized they will neither send troops to Iraq nor provide more money for reconstruction. The two have ruled out the possibility of contributing soldiers to the multinational force in Iraq as well as limited their financial participation to the €200 million ($234 million) of European Union aid that is going to Iraq, of which Germany is footing around €50 million. Russia too, has rejected dispatching soldiers to Iraq, but has said it would be prepared to help in other ways.

But Der Spiegel claimed the World Bank was considering whether to grant Iraq an emergency loan to the tune of $500 million (€432 million), which would be partially financed by Germany. Berlin contributes 12 percent of such loans -- which are intended for the world's poorest countries -- and would thus send another €60 million to Iraq, the Hamburg magazine wrote.

The United States is hopeful that the unanimous passage of U.N. resolution 1511 on Iraq's future on Thursday will prompt more countries to provide funds for Iraqi reconstruction and soldiers for the multinational force in Iraq. But U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he didn't expect any major financial contributions from Germany, France or Russia, which had been vehement campaigners against the Iraq war.

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