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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 September 2005, 20:58 GMT 21:58 UK
Jordan PM in historic Iraq visit
Jordan's Prime Minister Adnan Badran (left) and Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi
The two countries want to make their joint border safer
Iraq has hailed Saturday's highly symbolic visit to Baghdad by the Jordanian prime minister.

Jordan's PM Adnan Badran met Iraqi Vice-President Adel Abdul Mehdi and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari in Baghdad to bolster relations.

It comes weeks after Iraq accused its Arab neighbour of hosting people involved in "terrorist acts".

Mr Badran's visit was the first by an Arab leader since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

Secure border

In a press conference after the meeting, Mr Jaafari said: "This visit means a great deal to us and marks a great political turning point.

"I call on all the Arab states to follow the Jordanian initiative. Today's visit has broken a barrier and sent a political message," he said.

The security in Iraq is important for... the security and stability of Jordan
Adnan Badran
Jordanian PM

Mr Badran said the two countries needed to work together to make their border more secure. Jordan has been identified as a major entry point for foreign fighters joining the insurgency against the occupying US-led forces.

"A joint security committee comprising the Jordanian interior minister and the Iraqi interior minister will be formed to study all joint security issues," Mr Badran said.

"The security in Iraq is important for... the security and stability of Jordan," he said.

At the end of last month, Jordan asked Iraqi authorities to help find three suspects - thought to be linked to al-Qaeda - who were wanted in connection with a rocket attack on a US warship in the Red Sea port of Aqaba.

The men fled across the Iraqi border after the attack.

At the time, Jordan announced plans to improve border security by setting up a system to electronically monitor cross-border traffic at al-Karamah, where some 5,000 people and 1,500 vehicles pass each day.

Mr Badran said the border crossing would be upgraded to handle the massive increase in road traffic between Jordan and Iraq.

Mr Badran's visit came as Iraq closed the Rabiah crossing point on the border with Syria near the northern town of Talafar which US and Iraqi forces are fighting to get under control.

Talafar is thought to be a staging point for insurgents coming into the country from Syria.

Fellow Arabs attacked

Mr Jaafari urged other Arab states to follow Jordan's lead and send senior envoys to visit Baghdad.

Jordan withdrew its ambassador to Iraq shortly before the US-led invasion in 2003.

In August 2003, a suicide car bomb outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad killed 19 people, including some Jordanians visiting the building.

In July of this year, Algeria confirmed that two abducted diplomats in Iraq have been killed by their captors.

An Egyptian envoy was also killed in the same month after being abducted, with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, taking responsibility.

Egypt later stepped down its diplomatic presence in the country because of security fears.




SEE ALSO:
Major attack on Iraq 'rebel town'
10 Sep 05 |  Middle East


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