Aljazeera reports that the Iraqi official's visit is aimed at winning over tribal chiefs of Anbar province against a backdrop of opposition voiced by the US administration and Saudi Arabia to the idea of Iraq's division along sectarian lines.

 

Upon his arrival at the airport, al-Hashimi was met by Marouf al-Bakhit, Jordan's prime minister, and other cabinet officials.

 

Al-Hashimi told the Petra state news agency that his visit to Jordan "comes in the framework of consultations and exchanging points of view on mutual issues mainly the situation in Iraq".

 

He also said that during his previous visit to Jordan he "perceived a great concern from King Abdullah II and al-Bakhit about the situation in Iraq and a sincere and serious desire to help the Iraqis and get them out of the current deadlock and ordeal".

 

Makka meeting

 

Also on Tuesday, Saudi King Abdullah and Jordanian King Abdullah II met in the Saudi holy city of Makka to discuss the  Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis in Iraq, the official SPA news agency reported.

 

At a Monday night meeting chaired by King Abdullah, the Saudi cabinet warned against "attempts to divide" Iraq.

 

"The Saudi kingdom stands with all national forces working for the unity of Iraq, and opposes attempts to dismantle and divide the country, and provoke sedition among its inhabitants on the basis of sectarian, racial or confessional" lines, a statement said.

 

The cabinet added that the unity of Iraq would "reinforce  regional security and stability".

 

Police revamp

 

Meanwhile, in Iraq, government sources said on Tuesday that commanders of three special police forces were moved to administrative jobs under a government plan to revamp the interior ministry.

 

A Saudi cabinet meeting warned
against attempts to divide Iraq

Interior ministry sources said the minister, Jawad al-Bolani, ordered major-generals Mahdi Garawi, head of the Security Preserving Force; Adnan Thabet, of the Special Forces; and Rashid Flayeh, of Police Commandos, be shifted from the field to administrative posts in the interior ministry.

 

Leaders of the Sunni Arab minority and the US have put pressure on Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, to rein in Shia militias that have infiltrated the police.

 

"These moves are related to the sectarian conflict which is going on in this country. The moves came under pressure from the Americans and the Sunnis," a senior ministry source said.

 

Vetting

 

Western officials and Sunni Arab leaders have accused the Shia-controlled interior ministry of harbouring senior officers who, during Iraq's previous government, tolerated or encouraged Shia militias to infiltrate the police forces.

 

Thousands of policemen face criminal vetting and lie detectors as part of a "retraining" plan aimed at weeding out militiamen who have used the cover of their uniforms to kidnap, torture and commit mass murder, US officials have said.

 

On Tuesday, interior ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Khalaf said that more than 3,000 policemen have been suspended this year.

 

He said 1,228 of those suspended were fired, some for taking part in "terrorist operations." The rest, including senior officers, are waiting the results of investigations.