Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secretary Clinton kicks off two-day US-Iraq Business and Investment Conference

This morning Secretary Clinton delivered remarks at the U.S.-Iraq Business and Investment Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington D.C. to kick off the two day event.

Backed by the Obama administration, Iraqi leaders made a pitch for US investment as their economy struggles to rise from the ruins of war and the Baghdad government touts reforms. The Secretary stood alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and expressed her hope that the meeting would pave the way for greater international investment in Iraq and closer economic ties between us.

This conference was organized by Washington and it will facilitate contacts between US and Iraqi companies, businessmen and regional leaders from around Iraq. While Iraq's National Investment Commission chief Sami al-Araji has conceded he does not expect deals to be inked at the conference, some 750 projects will be presented to potential investors, and presentations will be made, encouraging investment in Iraq.

There will be more than 200 companies in attendance over the next day. Araji told reporters earlier this month, and while the focus will be on basic infrastructure, investment in industries such as housing and construction, agriculture, health and transport will also be targeted.

Here is some of what the Secretary had to say:

The plans for withdrawing troops are well underway. Our combat troops have left Iraq’s major cities, Iraqi security forces have replaced them, and what we see is a new sense of commitment to the future. And although the months ahead will be a time of change in Iraq, we have a great deal of confidence that rests in the ability and the commitment of the Iraqi people. A strong, free, prosperous Iraq is not only important for Iraqis, but also is key to a strong and stable region.
The Secretary laid out a plan with four main goals: working to aid the Iraqi Government in its efforts to promote national unity and resolve political conflicts, such as disputes over Kirkuk, supporting Iraq’s efforts to build strong relationships with its neighbors in the region, promoting the return and resettlement of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people and lastly supporting Iraq’s economic development and full integration into the global economy.
Now, Iraq has its work cut out for it. But we believe strongly in Iraq’s future. And the United States will use every tool of diplomacy to assist, from negotiations at the highest levels of government to technical and educational exchanges, to diplomatic efforts to resolve some of the lingering problems left by the prior regime. And in particular, we will encourage business partnerships that we think are in the best interest of both Iraq and the American people.

The American people have already invested a great deal in Iraq. Many families have paid the ultimate price for Iraq’s freedom and stability. Now, as we end our military involvement in Iraq, we pledge to secure the gains that the American and Iraqi people have achieved, by affirming our commitment to work with our Iraqi partners to help them realize their own ambitions and aspirations.

Read the full text of her remarks here or watch the full video below:

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