HERE’S a little anecdote to add to our story on rebuilding the railways of Iraq on p160. Back in the 1980s Korea Overseas Construction, a consortium of Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Namkwang Construction, was assigned the job of building the 242 km line between Haditha and Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Hyundai apparently spent around US$5bn on the scheme, but the company says that it only received US$4bn.

Long before last year’s invasion of Iraq Hyundai was seeking to recoup its losses. A senior Hyundai executive told us last month in Seoul that he had been to Baghdad to negotiate with Uday Hussein, Saddam’s eldest son. Any progress made was unfortunately undermined as Uday was shot last year by the US military.

But Hyundai has not given up. We understand that senior officials are negotiating with the US administration to see how it can get its money back. n