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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 13:28 GMT
Press frowns at Iraq contracts policy

Arabic papers disapprove of US President George Bush's decision to award lucrative contracts to countries which supported US action in Iraq.

A Qatari paper urges French President Jacques Chirac not to go ahead with a plan to ban the wearing of headscarves in French schools.

Papers in Egypt and Israel note recent efforts being made by both countries to break the deadlock in the Middle East peace process.

US politicians claim that they are in Iraq to rebuild the country and propagate democracy, not for the sake of oil and looting. But where is the truth in that?...

The truth has unfolded. Washington wants to take advantage of its presence in Iraq to allow its multinational companies to benefit from reconstruction contracts... Politically, the US want to punish those who opposed its war against Iraq by denying them the booty.

Ukaz - Saudi Arabia

When we warned that US aggression against Iraq was aimed at achieving two important goals, to loot Iraq's economy and wealth and to serve Israeli interests and remove any real Arab threats to the racist Jewish state, there were those who accused us of exaggeration...

Yesterday the US president, George Bush, announced that bids for contracts in Iraqi reconstruction will first be given to US companies, then other companies affiliated to allied countries which sent their forces to Iraq, risked the lives of their people, and served in the US project....

The US decision will create harsh divisions in the Western world and will increase the world's hatred for the current arrogant US administration.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi - London

We don't know why President Chirac and the French government are insisting on their plan to issue laws that criminalize the wearing of the veil by Muslim women...

Given the wide and increasing opposition, we are confident that a leader such as President Chirac, who has lived through two or more eras, has the wisdom which will make him backtrack on his plan. The plan will not only affect the unity of French society, but may also provoke, and disturb, the feelings of Muslim nations.

Al-Watan - Qatar

Egypt is making comprehensive efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one that will comply with the established legal human rights of the Palestinian people, the most important being the creation of an independent state...

Egypt was the first to open the doors of peace. It will not stop carrying out its mission despite the challenges and manipulation.

Al-Jumhuriyah - Egypt

In the meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in Geneva a significant rapprochement was recorded in the relations between the two states.

It is hoped that we have risen another rung towards a new era in the Middle East leading to promoting the peace process between Israel and its neighbours, and above all between Israel and the Palestinians. The task is not easy... for a very long road lies ahead before we reach the cherished objective of viable peace.

Hatzofe - Israel

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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