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Iraq: Hopes Grow for UK Firms Winning Contracts

November 21st, 2003

UK firms could secure a "significant proportion" of new contracts to help rebuild Iraq, a government minister has told company bosses.

Industry must "play its full part" in the reconstruction of the country, said trade minister Mike O'Brien.

Company executives were given a chance to meet the man overseeing the distribution of $18.6bn (11.14bn) of US money.

This follows the US government's pledge for greater transparency in awarding new contracts to rebuild Iraq.

Pressure on Blair

Gathering on the final day of US President George W Bush's state visit to Britain, delegates met Rear Admiral David Nash, head of the US Project Management Office to discuss the distribution of rebuilding contracts.

This followed pressure from UK firms for prime minister Tony Blair to use his sway as Bush's closest international ally to help companies secure Iraqi construction deals.

Mr O'Brien said he had been "encouraged by the receptiveness" of US officials during recent talks about how the funds would be split.

"So I sincerely hope that when the $18.6bn approved by the US Congress comes on tap, British companies will again be able to secure a significant proportion of the contracts," Mr O'Brien said.

UK firms already involved in rebuilding Iraq include De La Rue, which won the deal to print the new Iraqi currency.

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