FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson greets Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the State Department in Washington, DC, U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States does not plan to contribute any money at a conference in Kuwait next week to fund Iraq’s reconstruction drive after the war against Islamic State forces, U.S. and Western officials said, a move critics say could deal a new blow to American standing internationally.
“We are not planning to announce anything,” a U.S. official said on Thursday regarding financial assistance at the conference, which U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend.
The official, however, said Tillerson could still decide closer to the time to announce a contribution.
Washington instead is encouraging private-sector investment and counting on Iraq’s Gulf neighbors, particularly Sunni regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia, to pour in money as part of a rapprochement with Baghdad meant to reduce Shi‘ite rival Iran’s influence in Iraq.
President Donald Trump said during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign that if elected, “the era of nation-building …