WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has decided to write off 80 percent of the more than $15 billion it is owed by Iraq, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
As part of its plan to help Iraq rebuild, the Bush administration has been pressing Iraq’s creditors to follow Washington’s lead and write off debt it is owed by Baghdad.
A senior Saudi official, who was not named, told the Post that his country would write off 80 percent of Iraq’s debt. The official estimated Iraq’s debt to his country at $15 billion to $18 billion.
Iraq’s Finance Minister Bayan Jabr estimates Iraq’s debt at $140 billion. Much of that money was borrowed to finance the 1980-1988 war between Iraq and Iran.
Jabr, who was in Washington for World Bank meetings, said he had asked Saudi Arabia to forgive all of Iraq’s debt but was rebuffed.
So far, 52 countries have cancelled 80 to 100 percent of Iraq’s debt, Jabr told the Post.