- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

VIENNA, Austria — The White House yesterday said countries have an obligation to fulfill their monetary pledges to help rebuild Iraq, but refused to name the nations that are $10 billion behind their commitments, according to Bush administration calculations.

“Some of them have done better than others, and some are clearly lagging,” Stephen J. Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters aboard Air Force One as Mr. Bush traveled to Vienna for the annual U.S.-European Union summit.

The president is looking for a show of unity on blocking Iran’s nuclear program and plans to push for Europeans to commit to completing the “Doha round” of free-trade talks, while Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, who currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, is expected to press Mr. Bush on closing the enemy combatant detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

But even as he seeks to build pressure on Iran, Mr. Bush’s eye will be on the other two spokes of his “axis of evil” as he tries to block North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear and missile programs and tries to shore up international support for the new government in Iraq.

Anti-Iraq-war protests are scheduled for Mr. Bush’s stay in Vienna, but the president will be departing even as the main protest is under way today, headed for Budapest to commemorate tomorrow the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising that Soviet troops and tanks brutally smashed.

The president has not carved out much time for cultural activities in his two days on the ground in Europe, though he is expected to see the Vienna Boys Choir perform.

During his visit to Budapest, he will lay a wreath at the eternal flame in Kossuth Square, a memorial to the 1956 revolt against the Soviet bloc, and later will deliver a speech on the uprising and the push for freedom.

U.S. officials have said they don’t expect any breakthroughs on trade, nor do they expect major developments on Iran, in part because the principal European leaders involved in Iran aren’t here and in part because the burden is now on Iran to respond to a European-led offer.

On Iraq, Mr. Bush has stepped up pressure in the past several weeks to collect on the commitments made at a donor’s conference in Madrid in 2003, saying Monday that $13.5 billion has been pledged but only $3.5 billion has been paid.

“It’s a critical time for Iraq’s young democracy, and assistance from the international community will make an immediate difference,” Mr. Bush said. “All nations that have pledged money have a responsibility to keep their pledges, and America and Europe will work together to ensure they do so.”

Of the $13.5 billion pledged in 2003, $8 billion was assistance from donors and $5.5 billion was in the form of loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The money is to be disbursed between 2004 and 2007. But donations appear to have dried up since the total hasn’t risen much from September 2005, when the State Department reported that more than $3 billion already had been contributed.

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