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Oil nations failing Iraqi aid pledges

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A U.S. government watchdog report monitoring Iraqi reconstruction said foreign donors contributed barely 16 percent of promised aid to the war-torn nation.

A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction, a temporary watchdog group established to monitor aid, said foreign donors sent $2.5 billion of the nearly $16 billion pledged at an October 2003 donor conference in Madrid, USA Today said Wednesday.

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The U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a December congressional report that the biggest gaps by the 41 donor countries came from oil-rich countries and U.S. allies -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., expressed frustration over the lack of aid offered by oil producing nations.

"They're charging $100 per barrel of oil, making record fortunes, lecturing everyone else, and then they stiff everybody, including their cousins who they contend to be so very concerned about," Ackerman said.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt, who served as an international envoy on Iraq aid in 2006, said violence, corruption and a weakened central government in Iraq presents an obstacle to international aid.

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