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Germany

Schröder Urges Arabs to Forgive Iraq Debt

In Kuwait on Tuesday morning during his tour of the Gulf region, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called on Arab countries to substantially cut Iraq's multi-billion-dollar debt. The Paris Club, a confederation of the world's richest countries including Germany, agreed to waive 80 percent of Iraq's debt in November. "We would welcome a similar step by Arab creditor nations," the German leader said during an address to a audience of business executives. Iraq owes about €34 billion ($45 billion) to Persian Gulf states, mostly given during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war. Schröder also said in his speech that he understood forgiving Iraqi debt was a sensitive issue in Kuwait, "especially in view of the painful experiences of war and the Iraqi occupation." Later on Tuesday, Schröder visited Qatar, where he promoted the Transrapid magnetic levitation train developed by Germany. Schröder is being accompanied by a large business delegation during the week-long trip, during which he is hoping to develop deeper trade ties.

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