Qatar reacted with surprise on Tuesday, with Shaikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al-Thani, the Gulf state's first deputy prime minister and foreign minister, saying that Arab states had decided six months ago to back Thailand's candidate, long before Jordan announced its own man.

"The government has decided to summon the Jordanian ambassador from Doha to Amman for consultations," Jordan's state-run Petra news agency said, without giving further details.

Tension between the two countries erupted when Qatar cast its vote for the South Korean candidate Ban Ki-Moon in the latest straw poll for Annan's successor.

Shaikh Hamad told Aljazeera on Tuesday night that Jordan's decision to recall its ambassador "is a matter for our brothers in Jordan, and we respect their decision".

However, he said Qatar was surprised by the reaction, given that 14 Security Council votes had gone to Ban.

Jordan's complaint

On Saturday, according to a Jordanian official, Qatar's UN envoy broke ranks with a unanimous Arab stance to back Jordan's candidate by voting for Ban.

"During the Security Council straw poll, the Qatari representative did not vote for Prince Zeid bin Hussein, even though  the council of the Arab League unanimously backed his candidacy," the official said.

Ban won the votes of 14 of the
15 Security Council members

"The Qatari representative not only broke with the unanimous Arab position, he even campaigned for the South Korean candidate."

Ban won the backing of 14 of the 15 Security Council nations at another decisive straw poll on Monday. He now appears certain to be picked as the next UN secretary-general.

The council did not release an official tally for the poll, the  fourth since July. But Qatari Ambassador Nasser al-Nasser said 14 of the council's 15 members voted in favour of Ban, while the 15th cast a "no opinion" vote.

Qatar's response

Shaikh Hamad explained that Qatar, after originally supporting Thailand's candidate, had switched its backing to South Korea, with Jordan coming forward later.

"We said that at the Arab League meeting, and the Jordanian foreign minister knows that well," he told Aljazeera.

"We know that there are certain countries that seek to complicate the relationship [between Qatar and Jordan] and if they [the Jordanians] move in this path, we won't do the same. This is neither a media battle nor anything else."

Punitive measures

A senior Jordanian official earlier told AFP that Amman was considering  punitive diplomatic measures against Qatar for failing to abide by a unanimous Arab decision to back Jordan's candidate to succeed  Annan.

Shaikh Hamad said the campaign
to spoil relations would not succeed

Government spokesman Nasser Jawdeh spoke on Monday of Amman's disappointment with the Qatari position. "Qatar has refused to back a unanimous Arab decision and this shocks us, surprises us and we are displeased," he said.

The senior Jordanian official said "it is as if Qatar is doing everything in its power to prove its bad intentions against Jordan".

Qatar had adopted "a negative attitude towards Jordan because of its rapprochement with Saudi Arabia".

Media campaign

Qatar's Shaikh Hamad accused an unnamed "party" in Jordan of stirring up a media campaign against Qatar "seeking to create a crisis in relations", adding that it would not succeed.

Referring to the "Arab decision made six months ago to support the Thai candidate", he told Aljazeera: "Then, when the Jordanian candidate came up, the Arab brothers said - and you know Arabs' courtesy - 'We support your candidate.' But we said we can't do that since we honour our pledges. We had already given our word to the Thais, and then to the Koreans."

Shaikh Hamad denied that Qatar had any objection to the Jordanian candidate. "On the contrary," he said, "he is a good person and will be good for the Arabs."