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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Opens Economy to Foreigners

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Aiming to reverse decades of economic decay under Saddam Hussein, Iraq's leadership council unveiled sweeping free-market reforms Sunday that would permit foreign investment and impose income taxes -- but keep oil under government control.

Yet even the council's U.S. backers conceded that big multinationals were not likely to rush to Iraq, despite its promise, as long as instability reigns and violence erupts daily.

"Capital is a coward," U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said. "It doesn't go places where it feels threatened. Companies will not send employees to places that aren't secure."

Snow was addressing an international banking conference shortly after meeting with Iraq's new finance minister, Kamil Mubdir al-Gailani. Addressing the same group of pin-striped private bankers, al-Gailani said his objective was to "promote Iraqi economic growth and raise the living standards of all Iraqis as soon as possible."

Until Iraq can stand on its own, he also pleaded for international aid to meet its immediate humanitarian needs and to lay a "strong economic foundation for our eventual success."

"We ask the world to help us," he said. "Seize this opportunity."

Washington has been seeking financial help from other nations to rebuild Iraq, with a conference of donors set for next month in Spain.