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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 21:41 GMT
Cheney warned over Iraq attack
US Vice-President, Dick Cheney (left] meeting King Abdullah
King Abdullah's comments will be a blow to US efforts
King Abdullah of Jordan has warned US Vice-President Dick Cheney that a US attack on Iraq could seriously destabilise the region.

Cheney's tour
Saudi Arabia
In a statement released by the royal palace following a meeting with Mr Cheney in the Jordanian capital Amman, King Abdullah said that he hoped instead for "a solution to all outstanding problems with Iraq through dialogue and peaceful means", the Associated Press reported.

The announcement will be a blow for American efforts to shore up support for an attack on Iraq, one of the key reasons for Mr Cheney's current ten day tour of the region.

The pair also discussed a proposal for defusing the violence in the Middle East by getting Palestinians and Israelis to agree to talks.

"His Majesty stressed the significance of the American role to secure the success of the efforts to end the violence (and) to pave the way for reviving the peace process," Jordan's official press agency Petra reported.

Arab opposition

There has been much speculation that Iraq could be America's next target, and during his tour of nine Arab nations Mr Cheney is expected to try to persuade other Arab leaders to back an attack on Iraq.

Jordan's King Abdullah II (left) and Iraqi's envoy Izzat Ibrahim during the talks in Amman
Iraq sent its own envoy to counter Mr Cheney's tour

Washington has accused Iraq of developing weapons of mass destruction.

On Monday King Abdullah and the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, had reiterated their opposition to the idea of a strike.

"A strike on Iraq will be disastrous for Iraq and the region as a whole and will threaten the security and stability of the Middle East," King Abdullah said.

The White House knows that Iraq's neighbours are troubled by the prospect of a military assault, but it hopes that they will acquiesce if they are convinced that America is serious about removing Saddam Hussein.

I'll be there to conduct frank discussions and to solicit the views of important friends and allies

Dick Cheney
Throughout his tour Mr Cheney is expected to gather information on what support, whether diplomatic or military, each country feels able to provide.

But he has promised that that no announcements on Iraq will be made during the tour.

"I'll be there to conduct frank discussions and to solicit the views of important friends and allies," he said in an airport ceremony shortly after his arrival in Amman.

But the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, has dismissed Mr Cheney's mission as futile.

Countering Mr Cheney's mission, President Hussein's envoy Izzat Ibrahim has already held talks in Jordan and Syria in an attempt to seek Arab support against the US campaign.

Israel-Palestinian issue

Mr Cheney had admitted before the tour that he would be asked at every stop about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but he does not appear to be touting any new initiatives.

The White House is sending its envoy General Anthony Zinni back to the region, partly to deflect accusations that the US is not doing enough to bring Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon back to the negotiating table.

Mr Cheney's Middle Eastern tour also comes ahead of an Arab League summit later this month in Beirut which is due to discuss Saudi peace proposals aimed at ending conflict in the Middle East.

Mr Cheney arrived in Amman after holding talks in London with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said that no decision had been taken yet on how to tackle the "threat" posed by Iraq.

From Jordan, Mr Cheney is due to go on to Egypt.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Cheney and Blair give Iraq warning
07 Mar 02 | Middle East
Iraq keeps talking on arms inspectors
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