Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is begging other nations to write off Iraq's debt, saying the country needs reconstruction funds. He spoke today at a regional summit that will feature the first high-level talks between the U.S. and Syria since 2005; prospects of Secretary of State Rice sitting down with her Iranian counterpart are far less certain.
Saudi Arabia has pledged to forgive 80 percent of Iraqi debt, but in a sign of the nations' worsening relations, the Saudi foreign minister said only that discussions are ongoing. Russia, another creditor, is eyeing drilling rights to Iraq's juicy oil fields. Meanwhile, hopes for a thaw in the 27-year-old U.S.-Iraq standoff appeared slim.