Jordan's Abdullah meets Chirac,warns against Iraqi elections

28th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 28 (AFP) - King Abdullah of Jordan held talks on the Middle East with President Jacques Chirac Tuesday after warning in a newspaper interview that elections in Iraq are impossible in the current state of insecurity.

PARIS, Sept 28 (AFP) - King Abdullah of Jordan held talks on the Middle East with President Jacques Chirac Tuesday after warning in a newspaper interview that elections in Iraq are impossible in the current state of insecurity.  

The two men met for an hour at the Elysee palace for discussions that focussed on proposals for an international conference on Iraq, as well as terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Chirac's office said.  

King Abdullah made no comment to reporters before leaving for Rome where he is to hold meetings with President Carlo Ciampi and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.  

His remarks earlier to the Paris daily Le Figaro were seen as a sign of mounting scepticism in the region on the viability of national elections planned for January by the Iraqi interim government and the US-led forces there.  

"It appears to me impossible to organise indisputable elections in the chaos currently reigning in Iraq," he told the paper.  

"If the elections take place in the current disorder, the best organised faction will be the extremists. And the result will reflect the extremists' advantage. With such a scenario, there is no chance that the situation will improve.  

"There is chaos in the streets, and every day that passes sees new agitators infiltrating across the borders which are terribly difficult to protect. The biggest challenge for (Prime Minister) Iyad Allawi is restoring security," he said.  

The king warned against a proposal of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that partial elections could be held in regions that are peaceful in January, on the grounds that this is likely to exclude the Sunni areas around Baghdad where much of the armed resistance is concentrated.  

And he urged the authorities to speed up the reincorporation of demobilised Iraqi soldiers into the armed forces.  

"Not the generals but the officers and junior officers, the middle ranks, who are the only people in sufficient number and ability to restore order. The Americans' biggest mistake was to dissolve the security forces and purge the administration of hundreds of thousands of Baath party members," he said.  

"The quicker the old army is reconstituted, the better the new one will be," he said.    According to Chirac's spokesman, the president told Abdullah that France finds "useful " the idea of an international conference on Iraq but believes "several conditions must be met before a date can be fixed."  

On Monday Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said that any conference would have to discuss an American withdrawal from Iraq and include representatives of the armed opposition.  

In his interview with Le Figaro Abdullah said he supported the conference proposal because it had originated from the Iraqi interim government. Amman and Cairo have been mentioned as possible sites.  

He also paid tribute to France's "balanced" policy on the Middle East and urged Chirac to use the country's influence to advance the cause of peace in both Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

"France has power because it has influence. Your country's good offices for advancing the peace process have won it an extraordinary reputation ... France's balanced political analysis assures it an influence that it would be wrong to underestimate," he said.  

Chirac thanked Abdullah for Jordan's help in trying to secure the release of two French journalists held by Islamic extremists in Iraq, his spokesman said.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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