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$100 million to help create jobs in Iraq

L. Paul Bremer speaks Tuesday at the reopening ceremony for Baghdad's city hall.
L. Paul Bremer speaks Tuesday at the reopening ceremony for Baghdad's city hall.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. civil administrator for Iraq announced Tuesday the creation of a $100 million investment fund aimed at providing jobs and rebuilding communities throughout the country.

The administrator, L. Paul Bremer, said he met Friday night with about 18 Iraqis representing "all strands of Iraqi society" and discussed ways to restore the economy.

The group estimated that unemployment before the U.S.-led war was more than 50 percent, Bremer told reporters Tuesday at a briefing in the Iraqi capital. The unemployment rate has clearly gone up since the war because many state-owned enterprises have not been operating, he said.

"We're facing an unemployment problem that is certainly without precedent in my life," said Bremer, noting that it "creates a real hardship for Iraq men and women out there."

Under the economic plan, each region of the country will get $15 million "to employ local workers in construction projects identified by local communities," Bremer said. The fund also will allocate $20 million to rebuild government buildings, he said. The money will come entirely from Iraqi funds, Bremer said.

The U.S.-led coalition has other big-budget projects going as well, including a $150 million program involving the sale of wheat and barley through the Ministry of Trade and a $70 million community action program, he said.

"In the end, those are short-term projects because they don't, in and of themselves, create substantial economic activity," Bremer said. "To do that, we've got to get the private sector going. And that, of course, will be an area we'll pay a lot of attention to."

Bremer said he still believes an interim administration will be established within five weeks. Coalition officials said the administration initially will have representatives from various Iraqi factions acting as advisers to the coalition.

Two more most-wanted Iraqis captured

Two additional Iraqis on the U.S. most-wanted list are in custody, according to U.S. Defense Department officials.

Latif Nusayyif Jasm Al-Dulaymi, deputy chairman of the Baath Party's military bureau, is described as being involved in suicide operations and security for Iraqi defense facilities. He is No. 18 on the Pentagon's list of most-wanted Iraqis.

U.S. forces also captured Husseini Al Awadi, a former Baath Party regional commander and brigadier general in Iraq's chemical corps, officials said. Al Awadi was listed as No. 53 on the list and is not in the deck of cards.

The United States did not disclose the circumstances of the captures.

Other developments

• An explosion at an Iraqi ammunition supply facility in Ad Diwaniyah killed three Iraqis and injured two others Monday morning, according to a statement released by U.S. Central Command. The injured Iraqis were taken to medical facilities by coalition troops. No troops were wounded in the explosion. An explosive ordnance disposal team was sent to assess the situation and establish a protective buffer zone.

• The Iraqi central bank, run by the coalition in conjunction with Iraqis, has begun rolling out huge quantities of 250-dinar notes bearing Saddam Hussein's face, because Iraqis fear their 10,000-dinar notes are losing much of their value and may become invalid altogether. It is believed that Saddam had a great many of the 10,000-dinar notes printed in the final days before the war and that counterfeit versions abound. The 250-dinar notes are worth about 25 U.S. cents each.

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