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Jordan Allows 2 of Expelled Iraqi Diplomats to Stay - 2003-03-23


Jordan has allowed two of the five Iraqi diplomats it expelled to stay, and Jordanian officials are calling for efforts to stop the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Jordan's Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said two of the Iraqi diplomats on the expulsion order will be allowed to stay in Amman because of their commercial roles. But he said the others were ordered out of the country.

"These diplomats made some activities beyond their diplomatic role in Jordan, and they violated the security agreement between Jordan and Iraq. It is a Jordanian-Iraqi issue. It has nothing to do with any indications from any country. It is strictly a Jordanian Iraqi issue. The Iraqi embassy will stay open in Jordan," Mr. Ragheb said.

In all, there are 24 diplomats at the Iraqi embassy in Amman.

On Friday, the United States asked about 60 countries to expel Iraqi diplomats in anticipation of a new government being formed after the U.S.-led war in Iraq is over. Most Arab states that oppose the war said they would not heed Washington's call.

Jordan has tried to remain neutral, but has allowed some U.S. troops in the country, the government said, for defensive measures.

Prime Minister Abu-Ragheb said Jordan is pushing for diplomatic efforts to stop the war in Iraq and find a peaceful solution. "We felt always, this war will have its negative effect on everybody. This war, there will be no winners, whoever it is. Everybody will be a loser from this war. That is why we are concerned and want to see efforts to try to do something to find a quick solution to this issue," he said.

But the Jordanian Prime Minister does not expect much from the Arab League meeting scheduled for Monday in Cairo. "I believe this issue was under the umbrella of the United Nations and I am sorry to say that the Security Council is now paralyzed. Again I am afraid to say the Arab League is not in its best form. There are so many differences between the Arab countries on this issue," he explained.

The Jordanian official also expressed concern that the longer the war lasts, the more anger it will stir in neighboring Arab states like Jordan.

Since the start of the war, protests have erupted across the region, and some of them have turned violent. More than 50 anti-war demonstrations were held across Jordan in the past two days.

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