Tri-nation meet discusses Iraq, Syria

The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain have met in Cairo for a mini-summit concerning Iraq and Syria.

    Leaders like Mubarak are keenly following the Iraq situation

    No joint statement was issued after the talks on Monday among Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah II and the king of Bahrain, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

    But Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad told reporters that the three leaders held "a common understanding" on the need to help the Iraqi political process succeed.

    Awwad said the three heads of state discussed Syria and Lebanon, but he gave no common view on the issue.

    Egypt believes "no one should jump to conclusions ... or point a finger of blame at Syria before the UN investigator's report was issued", Awwad said, referring to the UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

    Pledging support

    The leaders also agreed "to continue supporting the Palestinian Authority at this critical stage and to help the Palestinian economy to flourish", Awwad said.

    The tri-nation talks came hours after Israeli and Palestinian officials announced the postponement of Tuesday's summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    After the talks, the Jordanian king left for Amman immediately, but the Bahraini king was expected to stay in Egypt until Wednesday.

    Arab leaders are closely following political developments in Iraq, where the draft constitution might be rejected in a referendum on Saturday.

    In an interview published on Monday, Abdullah praised amendments to the draft that affirmed Iraq's Arab identity and which assured the rights of former members of the disbanded Baath Party who were free of crime.

    "These changes are positive, and a step toward encouraging Sunni Arabs to take part in the political process," Abdullah told Al-Rai, Jordan's highest circulation newspaper.

    The UN report on al-Hariri's assassination is expected to be delivered on 25 October. The UN investigators have named four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals as suspects, and have interviewed seven Syrian officials.

    Many Lebanese believe Syria played a role in the 14 February killing - a charge Syria has repeatedly denied - and if the UN report names Syrian officials, it will increase the pressure on the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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