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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's opening comments at press conference on the launch of the International Compact with Iraq

Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, 3 May 2007

Today in the presence of over 70 delegations, we have officially launched the International Compact with Iraq. This is the culmination of a nearly year-long preparatory process. Today's launch also marks the beginning of the implementation phase over the next 5 years.

The Compact encompasses commitments by the Government of Iraq to pursue a programme of economic, political security reforms, as well as a strong pledge to continue to promote national reconciliation in Iraq. In turn, the international community agreed to help Iraq achieve those goals and to fulfill their National Vision for Iraq.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting the launch of the International Compact with Iraq.

Today's meeting demonstrated that there is broad support for the people and Government of Iraq in overcoming current challenges. This is not an easy task, and we will face numerous obstacles.

I expect that both the Government of Iraq and the international community will meet these commitments during the implementation process. The United Nations stands ready to assist the Government of Iraq in the implementation of the Compact.

I am pleased that a number of countries have made concrete commitments under the Compact today. In particular:

- There was broad support for the terms of the Paris Club on Iraq's outstanding debt.

- Specific financial commitments made by particular countries are estimated at over $30 billion. This includes commitments of debt relief on the Paris Club terms, from Bulgaria, China, Saudi Arabia and Greece. It also includes new financial commitments from the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, China, Denmark and Korea, and other key participants.

Participants of the Compact also have an opportunity to meet periodically and review progress under the implementation of the Compact. They will also be able to adjust the priorities if necessary.

We cannot leave Iraq on its own to meet the enormous challenges that it faces. The international community as whole, and in particular Iraq's neighbours and regional countries, must work together to help Iraq build a peaceful, unified and prosperous country.

Thank you very much.