Iran slams detractors over Iraq accusations
* Downgrades its representation at Iraq’s neighbours meeting
TEHRAN: Iran said on Sunday it will downgrade its representation at a ministerial meeting of Iraq’s neighbours in Amman on Thursday, apparently to protest accusations by Jordan’s King Abdullah that Iran was seeking to influence the upcoming Iraqi elections.
The Jordanian monarch charged last month that more than 1 million Iranians have entered Iraq, many to vote in Jan. 30 elections, and said they were being encouraged by the Iranian government. Iran rejected Abdullah’s comments as an insult to the Iraqi people who reject foreign domination and said they showed the Jordanian king’s “ignorance” of the situation in Iraq.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi won’t attend the Amman meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Sunday. Asefi said Iran attached a lot of significance to developments in Iraq but will send a lower-level official to the Jordan meeting. He didn’t elaborate.
Jordan has extended invitations to the foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbours - Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The Jordanian foreign ministry said last week that representatives from Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain were also invited.
Iran hosted a meeting of interior ministers and security officials of Iraq’s neighbours plus Egypt last month to discuss the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq. The Jordanian interior minister attended the meeting, which ended with a commitment to boost cooperation on border control and to combat the transfer of money that finances terrorist activities.
Most of the Arab countries neighbouring Iraq, who have Sunni majority population, fear that a Shia-dominated regime in Iraq would both embolden their own Shia communities and lead to Iraq’s moving closer to mainly Shiite Iran or adopting its Islamic state.
Shiites make up the majority population in Iraq and Shiite candidates are expected to fare well in the upcoming elections. Although Shias have long constituted the majority in Iraq, deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, who favoured the minority Sunnis, held them down. ap