Former Jordanian Chief-of-Staff Denies Involvement in Arms Sales to Peru
Jordan's former army chief-of-staff on Thursday denied any involvement in the sale of arms to Peru that ended up in the hands of leftist Colombian rebels.
Retired general Abdel Hahez al-Kaabneh told Al-Arab Al-Yawm newspaper that the weapons were sold legally to Peru and were not meant for any other party.
"The arms sale to Peru was done properly, and the documents available with the Jordanian authorities indicate that," Kaabneh said in an interview published Thursday by the independent Arabic-language daily.
He also denied having met any Peruvian official during the transaction and said he will confer with his legal advisors concerning the accusations issued by Peru which named his as a key player in the operation.
Kaabneh said the deal involved "10,000 used Kalashnikov rifles ... which were flown out of Amman airport around two or three years ago.
"Those who brought the plane to Jordan to take delivery of the weapons were the same people who signed the (purchase) deal," he said, stressing that the buyers had official identification documents from Peru.
On Wednesday, Colombia's ambassador to Egypt, Jaime Giron Duarte, who also represents his country in Jordan, discussed the case with a senior foreign ministry official in Amman.
"The Colombian ambassador met with the secretary general of the foreign ministry, Shaher Baq, who informed him of our position," a foreign ministry source told AFP on Thursday.
Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said last Sunday that arms sold to Peru in 1998 were legally delivered to legitimate Peruvian generals.
Peru and Jordan have been at odds over the arms sale since last week, when Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori announced a break-up of a multinational gunrunning ring that shipped arms from Jordan to Colombian rebels via Peru.
Peru named Kaabneh and two other former Jordan officers as "direct participants" in the deal and said that the alleged ringleader of the operation, a retired Peruvian army officer, was behind bars.
Fujimori on Wednesday denied Lima press reports that Peruvian air force planes brought the arms shipment from Amman to Lima.
Reports of the deal have coincided with the launching of Plan Colombia, a US-backed 7.5-billion-dollar package of economic and security measures designed to jump-start the country's economy, curb drug trafficking and end decades of leftist insurgency - AMMAN (AFP)
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