Khalilzad promises to refurbish Babylon; allocates $20 billion to new projects

11/25/2005 7:54:33 AM

American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, who many see as the country’s most powerful man, has promised to renovate Babylon.

Khalilzad made the pledge while touring the old city, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. He also vowed to spend $20 billion on upgrade infrastructure in the country’s 18 provinces.

Like almost everything in Iraq, Babylon has suffered a great deal in the aftermath of U.S.-led occupation of the country.

The ancient city was used as a military headquarters for the coalition troops and scientists say many of its buildings, relics, and remaining artifacts and ruins have been destroyed.

Khalilzad, who on Tuesday escaped a mortar attack in a visit to the northern city of Tikrit, said he would allocate $230 million for the Province of Babel and its capital Hilla situated close to the ruins of Babylon.

He said the money should be spent on “schools, health projects, development of drinking water networks and electricity.”

He pledged to “rehabilitate and develop Babylon in a manner that meets the ancient city’s standing in history.”

Khalilzad’s visit to Babylon comes following demonstrations that swept the city of Hilla to protest poor living conditions.

Khalilzad was given a warm welcome during his Babylon visit. He was received by the Governor of Babylon Province and other senior provincial officials as well a representative from the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.