Iraq to Participate in “Conference of the Neighbors”
Interim Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari told the Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas Wednesday that Iraq will for the first time participate in a conference of Iraq’s neighbors to be held this Saturday in Kuwait. He said Iraq will be a full and equal participant. The last meeting of the conference in Damascus was held without Iraq attending (the invitation was only issued at the last minute, presumably because the neighbors did not consider Iraq to have a sovereign government). Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia all have a keen interest in the fate of Iraq. Such conferences of the neighbors can sometimes be very useful for helping address diplomatic and military problems. A set of neighbors met frequently about Afghanistan in the 1990s and have been of help since the fall of the Taliban.
Zebari said that it was extremely important to demonstrate that all enmity and hatred between Iraq and Kuwait had been put behind them. He said Iraq had made proposals to Kuwait about resolving outstanding issues and that the Kuwaiti response has been promising.
With regard to elections in Iraq, he said no one disagrees there should be (open, direct) elections, the only issue is when. he said he did not know why there was such a hurry. (The Kurd leaders for the most part are not eager for direct elections, which will return a Shiite majority in parliament. Kurds are Sunnis).