WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The United States officially forgave all of the $4.1 billion owed the government by Iraq and urged other creditors to do the same Friday.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, Treasury Secretary John Snow and Iraq's finance minister, Adil Abd al-Mahdi, signed an agreement based on the terms discussed last month at the meeting of the Paris Club of 19 creditor nations.
At that meeting, the 19, who are owed a total of $38.9 billion, agreed to cancel 80 percent, so that Iraq must now pay only $7.8 billion. But other governments have yet to make similar commitments.
"Lifting the crushing burden of the old regime's debt is one of the most important contributions we can make to Iraq's new beginning," Powell said at Friday's ceremony.
When the United States invaded Iraq last year, Saddam Hussein's regime owed $127 billion.