Bush Names James Baker to Spearhead Effort to Lift Iraqi Debt

President Bush has enlisted former Secretary of State James Baker in a new bid to free Iraq from Saddam Hussein's debts.

The president has named Baker his personal envoy to meet with world leaders and international organizations on the issue. In a written statement, Bush says he hopes Baker can form worldwide "consensus."

Iraq's governmental debt is estimated at 120 billion dollars. Bush's statement says the future of the Iraqi people should not be "mortgaged" to the debt from Saddam's palaces and torture chambers.

That was an argument the White House used in persuading Congress to pass an Iraqi aid package as grants, not loans.

Baker, a former treasury secretary and campaign manager under Bush's father, was at the State Department during the first Gulf War. He's currently a UN envoy trying to end the long-running civil war in the Western Sahara.

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