The meeting, which will include some foreign ministers, is to start at 6.30pm (1530 GMT) on Sunday in the Red Sea port city of Jedda.

Host Saudi Arabia has been publicly blaming many of Iraq's ills on US policies in the country and alleged interference by Shia-ruled Iran.

Arab strategy

The Arab ministerial committee on Iraq was created in September by the Arab League and groups Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Sunday's meeting, the committee's first, is meant to draw an Arab strategy to support Iraq and the possibility of dispatching observers for the 15 October referendum on the constitution and the December elections.

Saudi Minister Saud al-Faisal (C) has 
warned of partition of Iraq (file)

It will also discuss the possibility of opening an Arab League office in Baghdad, the dispatching of an Arab delegation to meet community leaders and a stronger Arab participation in Iraq's reconstruction process.

On Saturday, Saudi rulers reiterated the need to guarantee Iraq's unity and Arab identity, during meetings in Jedda with the visiting US ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Concern over Iran

Last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Al Saud voiced concern at purported Iranian military, financial and political meddling in Iraq.

He warned that a partition of Iraq into Kurdish, Sunni and Shia states would "bring other countries in the region into the conflict".

The minister also blamed many of the ills in Iraq on US decisions, such as designating "every Sunni as a Baathist criminal", in reference to the Baath Party government of Saddam Hussein that was deposed by the US-led invasion in 2003.

His remarks reflected concern among the Sunni-led governments in the Gulf who fear that Shia Iran could increase its influence in Iraq, where it enjoys sympathy among the large Shia community at a time when the once-dominant Iraqi Arab Sunnis feel marginalised.