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Jordanian King Takes Dim View of Sending His Troops to Iraq - 2004-07-18

Jordan's King Abdullah says he would not favor dispatching troops from his country to help bolster security in Iraq.

King Abdullah says the international community, including his own country, must be unwavering in its support of stability and security in Iraq. But he questioned the wisdom of having Iraq's neighbors, including Jordan, send troops to Iraq.

"I do not think that Jordan is the right country [to send troops to Iraq], not any of the countries that surround Iraq, because I believe that we cannot work with transparency. We would all have personal agendas. Therefore, I do not think that we are the right people, morally, to commit to Iraqi security. But at the same time, this Iraq government needs 110 percent support from all of us in the international community. If the Iraq government was to ask us for support, it would be difficult for us to say no," said King Abdullah.

The king was quick to add that he did not believe such a request from Iraq is likely. No Arab nations have sent troops to join the multi-national coalition military force in Iraq.

Monday, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is scheduled to arrive in Jordan, beginning a tour of nations in the region. Among the topics that could arise in discussions between Mr. Allawi and Jordanian officials is the terror campaign U.S. and Iraqi officials say is being waged in Iraq by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

King Abdullah dismissed Mr. al-Zarqawi as a common criminal.

"He [al-Zarqawi] was basically involved in criminal gangs," he said. "He was basically a street thug who then found his way to Afghanistan to fight with the Mujahedeen. And he is now in Iraq. I think the press has made him [out to be] much more capable, much smarter and much more of a threat than, actually, he really is."

The monarch said Jordan is active in international efforts to track down Mr. al-Zarqawi, and that he hopes the terrorist leader is apprehended.