Zebari also denounced the anti-Saudi tirade on Sunday, several sources within the delegations taking part in the meeting said, requesting anonymity.

 

They were referring to remarks by Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Baqer Sulagh during a news conference in Amman earlier on Sunday in which he referred to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal as "a beduin on a camel".

 

Zebari himself declined to comment when asked about Sulagh's outburst, saying he had "still not read these statements".

 

An Arab ministerial committee on Iraq opened a meeting here on Sunday evening to draw up a joint strategy on the violence-ravaged country.

 

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

 

"We do not accept a beduin on a camel teaching us about human rights and democracy. In Iraq, we are proud of our civilisation," Sulagh said.

 

The Shia minister said the oil-rich Sunni-ruled kingdom had several problems of its own to take care of.

 

"Saudis should first allow women to drive, as is the case in Iraq," he said, adding that "four million Shia live like second-class citizens in the Saudi kingdom".

 

He was responding to recent remarks by Prince Saud in which he expressed concern about purported Iranian meddling in Iraq and said that sectarian divisions were threatening to break up the country.