Bush to rebuild contracts in Iraq

U.S.-based firms vying for billions in Iraq reconstruction contracts might be cheering a little this week, thanks to the Pentagon's decision to exclude companies based in countries that actively opposed the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein. That's bad news for French and German firms that have traditionally done a lot of work in Iraq, and just possibly good news for companies based in the U.K., Spain and other U.S. coalition partners, reports Washington Post. Under an order signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on Dec. 5 and first revealed in media reports earlier this week, the Pentagon has created a list of 63 countries whose companies are eligible to compete for $18.6 billion in contracts tied to reconstruction efforts in Iraq. The reason for the hot-or-not list? Wolfowitz cited "essential" security concerns, states Washington Post. The order "excludes many countries that have done business in Iraq for decades but that opposed the U.S.-led war there, including Germany, France, Russia and China. On the other hand, companies from all nations will be allowed to compete for smaller subcontracts to do U.S.-funded work," The Wall Street Journal explained yesterday. Deutsche Welle reports that according to a U.S. government spokesman, Bush told German Chancellor Gerhard Schrцder, French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin that he planned “to keep the lines of communication open” regarding the contracts. Bush also reportedly tried to present the new policy as an invitation to other countries to join Washington’s camp rather than a form of punishment.

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