American allies raised new questions Wednesday concerning a fund-raising campaign launched by President Bush to collect the billions of dollars needed in the Persian Gulf crisis.
As officials representing more than 20 nations prepared to hold an organizational meeting of the Gulf Crisis Financial Coordination Group, it was clear that the allies who were expected to put up the cash had a number of objections to the outline of the effort unveiled by Bush on Tuesday.The disputes ranged from such basic issues as how much money should be contributed to which countries should receive the assistance. There were also debates over what mechanisms to use to disburse the funds.
Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady expressed the hope Wednesday that the various questions could be resolved, telling global finance ministers in a speech that they needed to forge "a united economic front" against Saddam Hussein.
"The economic strength represented by all of you in this room must be mobilized to demonstrate collective resolve and make clear our intention not to yield to aggression," Brady said.
Officials said that while the United States was pushing for more than $14 billion in assistance for the frontline states of Turkey, Egypt and Jordan and other hard-hit countries, some European countries were insisting that a much smaller amount of around $9 billion was all that was needed.
Saudi Arabia reportedly was objecting to including Jordan as a beneficiary country until Jordan moved more forcefully to close its borders to trade with Iraq.
President Bush put forward his proposal for the crisis coordination group during an address Tuesday to the opening sessions of the 154-nation International Monetary Fund and its sister organization, the World Bank.
While officials of the large donor countries indicated general support for a coordinating group, they let it be known that many of the details remained to be worked out.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer John Major told reporters that it was possible that a working group session Wednesday would be unable to resolve all the outstanding issues and would end up bucking the dispute to a later meeting of finance ministers.
"It is clearly sensible for the world to get together and determine what should be the elements of assistance, how much it should be and how that should be divided among the donor nations," Major said.
Officials of Japan, which already has pledged $4 billion, more than any other country outside of oil-rich Persian Gulf nations, indicated they had questions as well on how the informal coordinating council would work.