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Jordan's king visits Iraq, gets cheaper oil

Latest update : 2008-08-12

Jordan's King Abdullah II met Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq, in the first visit for an Arab head of state since the 2003 invasion. Talks led to Iraq agreeing to sell discounted oil to Jordan, cheaper than under a 2006 deal.

Jordan's King Abdullah II held talks with Iraqi leaders on Monday on the first visit to Iraq by an Arab head of state since the 2003 US-led invasion, calling for an end to sectarian differences.
  
The monarch went immediately on arrival in the Iraqi capital into talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki before meeting Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi, officials said.
  
Discussions focused on means "to improve bilateral relations in all fields" and were "frank and positive," a foreign ministry statement said.
  
Maliki's hailed the ties between the neighbours.
  
"This visit will open a new page in relations between the two countries which will help to maintain the stability and security in Iraq and all the region," he said.
  
Highlighting his government's progress with eradicating "terrorists and outlaws," Maliki vowed to press ahead with the necessary rebuilding of his war-ravaged country.
  
For his part King Abdullah said he "renewed his support to the Iraqi government and his support for the efforts to spread security, stability and reconstruction ...
  
"All Arab countries should support Iraq," he said.
  
"Uniting Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political powers is the only way to build a unified and sovereign Iraq that would be capable of serving its people and the Arab nation," King Abdullah told Abdel Mahdi.
  
"Iraqi and Jordanian officials should exchange visits after this trip to discuss mechanisms for boosting bilateral relations in various fields and serve the interests of Jordan and Iraq," he added, in a statement released in Amman.
  
Discussions also included trade and ways to encourage the economic ties and Iraq's oil supplies to Jordan.
  
King Abdullah and his delegation, including Prime Minister Nader Dahabi, had been expected to travel to post-Saddam Hussein Iraq last month but the trip was delayed for what diplomatic sources in Amman had said were security concerns.
  
His visit was agreed during a visit to Amman by Maliki in June to renew a 2006 deal to sell discounted oil to its neighbour, which relies on Iraq for most of its fuel needs.
  
Following that visit, Amman announced that it had appointed an ambassador to Baghdad where its embassy has been run by a charge d'affaires since it came under deadly attack in 2003.
  
Jordan kept its embassy in Baghdad open even after the mission was attacked, but it downgraded the level of its representation amid serious concerns as the level of insurgent violence began to spike.
  
The king's visit was seen as positive if symboic step forward for Baghdad which is working to rebuild relations with its neighbours in the wake of five years of bloodshed that continues despite violence dipping to a four-year low.
  
Maliki said the visit paved the way for strengthening Iraq's relations with other Arab countries.
  
Washington has been pushing its Arab allies, notably regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia, to send ambassadors and high-level officials to Baghdad to help shore up support for the country's Shiite leadership.
  
King Abdullah in 2004 warned against the emergence in Iraq of a pro-Iranian government that would promote a "Shiite crescent" bringing together Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon -- a comment criticised by Iraqi officials.
  
The Sunni-ruled Arab monarchies of the region had been reluctant to upgrade ties with Iraq, not just due to violence in the country but also because of its Shiite-led government's perceived tilt toward non-Arab Shiite Iran.
  
The United States also hopes that these countries will offer financial support to Iraq and counterbalance the influence of Iran, which US President George W. Bush has accused of negative interference in Iraqi affairs.
  
Jordan hosts between 450,000 and 750,000 Iraqi refugees who have fled violence in their war-torn country, and Amman has estimated the costs of sheltering them so far at more than two billion dollars.

Date created : 2008-08-12

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