Archive for Monday, March 27, 2006

Arab countries discuss new embassies in Iraq

March 27, 2006


— Arab countries promised Sunday to consider reopening diplomatic missions in Iraq, after criticism by Iraq's foreign minister that they are not doing enough to support his country's fragile efforts toward stable government or peace.

The promise, in the form of a draft statement by the Arab League, offered no clear timeframe for Arab countries to open full embassies in Baghdad. Arab diplomatic missions in Iraq have only had lower-level staffers, with no fully accredited ambassadors, since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion - which the Iraqi government has seen as a sign of lack of support.

In private, presummit meetings in Khartoum, fierce arguments broke out between Iraqi interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and his counterparts over the Arab role in Iraq, according to several diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Particularly irritating to Arab governments - already suspicious of Iran - are plans for talks between Iranian and U.S. officials over how to stabilize Iraq.

Some Arab officials brought up the Iran-U.S. dialogue during private meetings, and voiced concern these talks would ignore Arab interests in Iraq, Zebari confirmed Sunday. "Our reply to them was, maybe others do have a role (in Iraq), but where are you?" he told reporters.


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