Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on Australia to play an active role in the reconstruction of his country, while thanking it for taking in thousands of Iraqi refugees.
Addressing the Lowy Institute in Sydney last night, Mr Maliki said Iraq was hindered by its reliance on oil and gas to finance his country’s reconstruction. “However, we are using the revenue from these two sources to finance others — revenue-yielding sources such as agriculture, energy and trade,” he said. “We call on Australia to help Iraq with its agriculture sector.”
Mr Maliki, who arrived in Canberra on Thursday, is the first Iraqi leader to visit Australia. He said his visit was to “bring opportunities to open doors for investments that will help Iraq embark on its reconstruction effort”.
This news report doesn’t do justice to what was a thunderingly dull address, rife with inaccuracies, blatant untruths (“all Iraqis are now united as one”) and hopelessly soft-ball questions afterward from the corporate crowd.
Nothing about the government’s use of US-backed death squads to eliminate enemies.
Nothing about the division of major cities into Sunni and Shia areas.
Virtually nothing about the prospect of American troops remaining in the country for years to come.
Maliki is the favoured dictator in waiting.