AMMAN/BAGHDAD — Deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah, Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh will head the Jordanian delegation to the 23rd Arab Summit, which opened in Baghdad on Tuesday.
The delegation includes ministers of industry and trade and foreign affairs Sami Gammoh and Nasser Judeh, respectively, Jordan’s Ambassador to Egypt and its permanent representative in the Arab League Bisher Khasawneh, and Jordanian Ambassador to Baghdad Mohammad Tayseer, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Finance ministers’ talks opened the three-day Arab League Summit in Baghdad, the first to be held in the Iraqi capital in two decades and the first to be hosted by a Shiite Arab leader, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, Reuters reported.
Tight security has locked down the capital and the government declared a five-day holiday to help ease congestion caused by checkpoints and roadblocks, with tens of thousands of extra troops drafted in.
Leaders from the 22-member group are due to meet on Thursday in talks likely to be dominated by the crisis in Syria.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Iraq asked countries to forgive its pre-invasion debts, urging others to follow the United Arab Emirates and Algeria which have already agreed to write off what they were owed by their fellow OPEC member.
“We’ve asked Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Libya, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt and Morocco to help Iraq in closing up its debt situation,” Iraqi Finance Minister Rafie Al Esawi said.
The Paris Club of 19 rich creditor nations agreed in 2004 to write off 80 per cent of some $40 billion debt to help Iraq recover from the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted president Saddam Hussein but triggered years of violence and insecurity.
Debt forgiveness talks with non-Paris Club nations are still under way.
“It needs more cooperation from Arab countries regarding the cancelling of debt,” Esawi said, thanking the UAE and Algeria for agreeing to cancel 100 per cent of debts.
Iraq’s external debt was between $130 billion and $140 billion in 2003, much of which was settled through the 2004 Paris Club agreement.
That deal required Iraq to seek similar settlements with all its other creditors. But some commercial creditors won legal judgements and have refused to comply with the settlement.
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