Iraq and Jordan discuss oil pipeline

Jul 19, 2004 02:00 AM

Iraq's interim prime minister, making his first regional tour since taking office, met with Jordan's King Abdullah II to discuss security issues and the possibility of connecting the two countries with an oil pipeline.
In a statement released after the talks, the king reaffirmed Jordan's support for Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's "efforts to reinstate security and stability in Iraq." Abdullah said officials from both countries discussed establishing a Jordanian-Iraqi Higher Committee to "discuss all programs of cooperation between both countries." It will likely stress economic and security issues.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said the leaders revived the idea of building an oil pipeline between the two countries, a plan that had been floated during Saddam Hussein's rule but put on the backburner because of the high costs involved.
Until the outset of the US-led war to oust Saddam, Iraq was Jordan's only oil supplier, covering the kingdom's daily requirement of 90,000 barrels of fuel and crude oil. Muasher also said Iraq wanted Jordan to help develop economic legislation and free trade agreements. Jordan signed a free trade agreement with the United States in 2002 and Singapore this year. It is also seeking a free trade deal with the European Union.

Allawi praised Jordan's support for Iraq.
"We will never forget Jordan standing beside its brothers in Iraq, and we look forward to consolidating our relations," Allawi said. Allawi said Iraq also "appreciates Jordan's help... in training elements of the Iraqi army, the police and other civilian forces, and for presenting military equipment to the Iraqi army."
Muasher confirmed the supply of military equipment to Iraq but provided no details on what was delivered. More than 4,000 Iraqi army and police cadets attended courses this year in Jordan under an agreement with the now-defunct US-led occupation authority. The agreement envisions the training of 32,000 Iraqi police officers over two years.

Other issues expected to be discussed during Allawi's trip include the possible use of other Arab forces in Iraq and the fate of Iraqi assets frozen since the US-led war.
Iraq has said it does not want Arab troops to help with peacekeeping efforts. But Abdullah said on July 1 that Jordan was willing to send troops, even though he felt Iraq's immediate neighbours were not the right people to go in because each had their own agendas in Iraq.

Source: The Associated Press
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