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Jordan Calls on Iraq to Comply with UN Resolutions - 2002-10-03


Jordan is calling for Iraq to comply with any resolutions on weapons inspections the United Nations adopts. Jordanian officials are concerned about the human, political, and economic upheaval an attack on Iraq would bring to the Mideast region.

Jordan Foreign Minister Marwan al-Muasher says his country is working hard to avert a military strike on Iraq because of the instability it would create throughout the region.

Mr. Muasher says Jordan has urged Iraq to accept any resolution from the U.N. Security Council. The United States, with British support, has drafted a new resolution that would authorize military action against Iraq if it interferes with arms inspectors.

Mr. Muasher says Jordan fears a military attack will send thousands of Iraqis fleeing in Jordan's direction. He says 1.5 million Iraqis sought refuge in Jordan during the 1991 Gulf War. The refugee surge led to serious balance-of-payments problems and stunted the country's economic growth.

Mr. Muasher says many Iraqis are still in the country and limited resources are strained.

"Obviously our ability to deal with more refugees is extremely limited and we hope we will not be able to come to that point because I do not think we will be able to take in more refugees in the country," he said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a business summit in Geneva inaugurated by Jordan's King Abdullah, Foreign Minister Muasher says Jordan has only recently begun its economic recovery from the last Gulf crisis. He says the country's economic gains made over the past three years will be jeopardized if there is an attack on neighboring Iraq.

"A strike not only hurts Iraqi interests, but the interests of the region and the interests of Jordan," he said. " That is why we are trying with our Arab friends to find a diplomatic, peaceful solution to the conflict."

Mr. Muasher says Jordan will not allow its territory to be used for a military strike against Baghdad. That is the same policy Jordan had during the last Gulf crisis. Jordan and Iraq share a long border, and Iraq has a far stronger military than Jordan. I

Although Jordan is often at political odds with Saddam Hussein's regime, the two countries have strong economic ties.