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Vol 44 No 8

Published 18th April 2003

Odious debt

Forthcoming negotiations on cancelling much of Iraq's US$120-130 billion debt will have repercussions for Africa's most indebted states. Defenders of the status quo on poor country debt will be hardpressed if one of history's biggest write-offs ever goes ahead. Banking sources predict at least two-thirds of Iraq's debt will be written off, with strong backing from the United States. When ex-President Saddam Hussein took full power in 1979, he inherited a foreign surplus of about $35 bn. but after the war with Iran, had built up a foreign debt of $50 bn. by 1990, much of it to US, West European, Russian and Chinese arms suppliers.

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