Arab FMs to meet on postwar Iraq

Iraq's neighbours are gathering in Kuwait City for top-level talks on the post-war situation and the effects on the region of the war-ravaged country.

    Held in Kuwait City, the conference is the fifth of its kind

    Iraqi interim Foreign Minister Hushyar Zebari, meeting his regional counterparts for the first time, arrived in the Kuwait capital on Saturday, refusing to talk to reporters after being received by his Kuwaiti counterpart Shaikh Muhammad al-Sabah.

    The two-day conference, the fifth of its kind, is scheduled to kick off at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Saturday, grouping the foreign ministers of Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Bahrain and Egypt. 

    "Iraq, which is attending this meeting for the first time, will request from its neighbours proof of goodwill on the level of security and cooperation," an Arab official in Kuwait told AFP. 

    Airing concerns

    A senior Arab official earlier said the forum "will allow
    Iraq to air its concerns and enable its neighbours to explain
    theirs". 

    "It is important to work together for a situation where the
    Iraqi people regain their full sovereignty, and this should pave the way for stability," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Mahir told al-Qabas daily before his arrival. 

    "I believe that the key issue that may achieve normality is to arrive at a settlement among Iraqis that guarantees they regain practicing full sovereignty over their united territories," Mahir said. 

    "The meeting will discuss the means of helping the Iraqi people in the political construction of their state and recovering their
    sovereignty, as well as helping with the reconstruction itself," Mahir also said in Cairo before leaving for Kuwait. 

    Security problem

     

    "The instability prevailing in Iraq has had repercussions on the entire region, and that is why Iraq's neighbours have concerns about Iraq's internal political developments," one Arab official said, requesting anonymity

    "This meeting is of no use as it has been held without any clear objectives and visions . The meeting will be just an exchange of political discourse."

    Abd al-Muhsin Jamal
    Former Kuwaiti MP

    "For Iraq's interim Governing Council, security signifies above all that its borders are safeguarded against infiltrators from neighbouring countries, notably Syria and Saudi Arabia," said another Arab official, on condition of anonymity. 

    The US-led occupation in Iraq and the country's officials have fingered foreign fighters infiltrating Iraq as being behind deadly attacks in the country. 

    "The Iraqi minister intends to speak clearly with his Syrian
    counterpart, backing himself up with 'proof' that such infiltration is continuing," said the official. 

    Another official of one of the participating countries said Baghdad's neighbours wanted "to be comfortable that Iraq has no partition plans." 

    "We want Iraq to tell us clearly that there is no formula being
    studied for partition, that the federation talked about is
    administrative and not ethnic," the official added. 

    'Iraqis not the neighbours'

    Speaking to Aljazeera, former Kuwaiti MP Abd al-Muhsin Jamal said: "It is obvious that the most pressing issue to be tackled during the meeting is the absence of security in Iraq; thus I think only Iraqis should be involved and not the neighbours." 

    "This meeting is of no use as it has been held without any clear objectives and visions," added the Kuwaiti MP. 

    "The meeting will be just an exchange of political discourse and will not come up with

    an effective announcement."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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