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Iraq conference in Egypt adopts aid-for-reforms plan

CAIRO, May 3 (RIA Novosti) - An international conference on Iraq adopted an aid for reforms deal with Iraq in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh Thursday.

"The participants unanimously supported the resolution in favor of an international effort to help Iraq out of the crisis," UN Envoy to Iraq Ashraf Kasi said.

Speaking at the final meeting, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki reassured the conference about Iraqi's intention to honor its commitments under the deal.

The document called International Compact is a five-year action plan for the Iraqi government and its international sponsors to build a united and safe democratic state in exchange for political and economic reforms.

Delegations from 60 countries, most of them represented at foreign ministerial level, are participating.

The UN secretary general, the Arab League head and the EU high representative for foreign policy also took part. Alexander Saltanov, a deputy foreign minister, represented Russia.

"The initiative is aimed at establishing a partnership between the Iraqi government and the international community," The Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said.

On Wednesday, U.S. President George Bush vetoed a congressional bill linking $124.2 billion in additional military funding to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by a deadline of April 1, 2008.

Speaking at the White House during a special televised broadcast, Bush called the congressional bill unacceptable, adding that it was only the second time in six and a half years that he had to use the presidential right to veto.

"Setting a deadline for the withdrawal [of troops] would be setting a date for failure," he said, adding that it would demoralize Iraqis and give a signal to the Middle East that America will not keep its commitments.

At preliminary consultations in Sharm el-Sheikh, the participants of the prospective meeting in Egypt agreed not to include the troop withdrawal into a draft final statement, the Egyptian news agency MENA quoted a high-ranking diplomat as saying Wednesday.

Earlier, an Iraqi government representative said Baghdad is against including the item into the statement because foreign troop withdrawal is only possible after Iraqi security forces are able to take responsibility for law and order.

Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, permanent UN Security Council members and G8 members are expected to attend the ministerial meeting.

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