Arab states voice concern over Iran - US talks on Iraq

Published March 25th, 2006 - 03:39 GMT

Fears of a growing Iranian role in Iraq seems to loom over the annual summit of Arab leaders as the Arab League chief warned of marginalizing the Arab role in the occupied country.


Foreign ministers of the 22-member Arab League commenced Saturday a two-day preparatory meeting ahead of Tuesday's annual summit in Khartoum.


A resolution stressing the need "of not marginalizing the Arab role in drawing the future of Iraq under any condition," will be discussed by the leaders, Arab League secretary general Amr Mussa said, according to AFP.


"I don't think any dialogue taking place behind the Iraqis' and Arabs' backs can be fruitful," Mussa said, hinting to the expected direct talks between Iran and the United States over Iraq.


Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Arabs should have a greater role in Iraq. "There is a US-Iranian agreement to have dialogue over Iraq. There should be an Arab role," in the efforts to end Iraq's crisis, he stated.


Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also demanded a serious and clear Arab commitment to help in stabilising his country. Our demands "include Arab involvement in helping to stabilise Iraq ... (and) more (Arab) diplomatic representation," he said ahead of an Arab ministerial meeting to discuss the situation in Iraq.


The 18th regular summit, which has the Iraqi issue high on its agenda, will be shunned by a number of key Arab leaders. Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak will not take part in the summit on March 28-29. Saudi King Abdullah, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Oman's Sultan Qaboos will also not attend the event, an Arab League official said Friday.


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