June 13, 2006

Hey, guess what? It really was all about the oil:
President Bush proposed today that Iraq create a national fund to use its oil revenues for national projects, as part of a strategy to build loyalty to the new government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

Speaking after six hours of meetings at Camp David with his national security advisers, members of his Cabinet and top American officials in Baghdad, Mr. Bush talked less about strategies to quell the insurgency in Iraq than about promoting economic development.

He made it clear that strategies to increase Iraq's oil production, from revitalizing old oil wells to rebuilding an infrastructure that he said Saddam Hussein let decay, would be at the top of the agenda on Tuesday morning when his Cabinet meets in a video conference with Mr. Maliki's newly appointed ministers.

"The government ought to use the oil as a way to unite the country," Mr. Bush told reporters, flanked by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Iraq, he said, "ought to think about having a tangible fund for the people so the people have faith in the central government."

Mr. Bush did not elaborate, and he said nothing about the insurgent attacks on pipelines and pumping plants that have kept production to levels below what Iraq produced under Mr. Hussein's rule, and the rampant corruption that has diverted oil revenues from the Iraqi government.


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