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EU to pledge $233 million for Iraq


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BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- The European Union has announced it will pledge 200 million euros ($233.5 million) to help in the reconstruction of Iraq.

The announcement comes ahead of a donor conference in Madrid later in the month.

Announcing the figure at a news conference Wednesday, EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, said: "Some people have said that is too much, some have said that is too little. I think it is a realistic amount, especially given our budgetary constraints.

"If you compare what we are doing in Afghanistan with what we are doing in Iraq ... the figures are pretty much identical," he said.

"The security situation in Iraq obviously affects how rapidly we work on Iraq's reconstruction. It is difficult to develop and reconstruct if bombs are going off in all directions," he warned.

Reports from the United Nations and World Bank have put the cost of reconstruction in Iraq at up to $75 billion.

The Bush administration has asked Congress for more than $20 billion for reconstruction work in Iraq in addition to the cost of occupying the country.


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