August 22, 2008 / 3:10 PM / 9 years ago

Georgia seeks $1-2 billion for reconstruction - USAID

(Adds details, background)

TBILISI, Aug 22 (Reuters) - The Georgian government is seeking $1 billion to $2 billion in aid to repair and develop infrastructure after its conflict this month with Russia, the head of the U.S. government aid agency said on Friday.

"They have a proposal for what they call a Phoenix Fund, which is somewhere between 1 (billion) and 2 billion dollars," Henrietta Fore, the administrator of USAID, told reporters.

"That’s really reconstruction, it’s for infrastructure. It’s not just because of hostilities. It’s for development," she told reporters on a plane returning from a visit to Georgia to assess the government’s needs after the conflict.

"Georgia has given us rather a long list of things they would like to see -- communications is certainly part of it, hydro-electric dams...," she said.

She said the request also covered assistance for housing for Georgians forced from their homes by the conflict, Fore said.

"There is a good amount that needs to be done," she said.

"It does not all need to be done by the United States. It can be done by international organisations as well as other bilateral organisations."

Fore said the private sector could also play a role.

The Georgian request did not include training funds, she said, adding: "This is usually a very large part of a country’s request."

Russian bombing raids and ground offensives targeted mainly military infrastructure, including the military port at Poti on the Black Sea, the military airport near Tbilisi, and military bases across the country.

A bridge on the main east-west rail link was also blown up, though Russia denied responsibility. Several apartment buildings in the town of Gori were hit, and civilian infrastructure has struggled to cope with tens of thousands of refugees and hundreds of wounded.

General John Craddock, who accompanied Fore to Tbilisi said on Thursday the United States was likely to help Georgia rebuild its military after it was swept aside by Russia’s much larger forces in the conflict over South Ossetia.

The World Bank said on Thursday it would send a mission to Georgia on Friday to assess economic damage caused by the conflict with Russia and to discuss reconstruction plans. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Mark John/Tony Austin)

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