Iraq: Cohen Tour Aimed at Breaking Arab Solidarity
US Defense Secretary William Cohen's tour of the Middle East that began Thursday is aimed at breaking regional solidarity with the Palestinians and with Iraq, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) said.
An INA report dated Washington and published in local newspapers said Cohen was seeking to dissuade Arab countries from paying into two funds for the Palestinians decided at the recent Arab summit in Cairo and worth 1 billion dollars.
The US defense chief was also looking for "pretexts for tightening the embargo against Iraq and countering the moves of the Arab and Islamic world and the international community towards ending sanctions imposed by Washington and London," the agency charged.
Cohen arrived in Bahrain Thursday saying that last month's bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen would not drive his country's forces out of the Middle East.
The nine-nation tour starting in Manama is also taking place in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Jordan, Egypt and Israel.
Nine years after the Gulf War that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, the United States keeps a 20,000-strong military presence in the region. On land, troops are based in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, while arms are positioned in Qatar and Oman.
"We've made great progress with all of the Gulf states," said Cohen, on his ninth tour of the region. "We have a policy of commitment to the security of the region." – BAGHDAD (AFP)
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