Iraqi neighbours welcome sovereignty

Jordan’s King Abdullah II was enthusiastic when he congratulated Iraq for its recovered sovereignty and pledged Amman’s support.

The Arab League said it hoped the move would boost the credibility of Iraq’s interim government, while Egypt said it hoped the transfer would put the country on the road to stability.

King Abdullah of Jordan sent separate messages to Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi “expressing Jordan’s support for Iraq in this important phase”, the palace said in a statement.

He also voiced Jordan’s support “for all the measures that the Iraqi government will take to guarantee its security and the stability of Iraq”, in a congratulatory statement addressed to Mr Yawar.

In the message to Mr Allawi he said that “the unification of the people of Iraq is the guarantee that will foil attempts by those who want to undermine Iraq’s stability and its process for democratisation”.

Iran, which opposed last year’s US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, gave a cautious welcome to the handover in Baghdad.

“We have already given our official point of view regarding Iraq. We welcome any move that will give sovereignty back to the majority of the Iraqi people and ends the occupation of our neighbour,” a government spokesman said.

“We hope this is a step in this direction and will lead to a government based on the opinion of the Iraqi people,” Abodollah Ramazanzadeh told reporters.

Fellow neighbour and opponent of the war, Syria, said it was ready to help Baghdad recover its full independence from the foreign occupation.

“Syria hopes the transfer of power to Iraqis will lead to the exercise of sovereignty in the whole territory,” said the foreign ministry spokeswoman.

“Syria is ready to provide all support to allow Iraq to recover its independence and freedom.”

In Cairo, where the Arab League is based, the organisation’s chief Amr Mussa said he hoped the Iraqi government would “be able to exercise its powers in a way which grants it credibility”.

The League was ready to “support any measure… to guarantee the return of full sovereignty and to put a total, and real end to the occupation”, he told reporters, referring to the continued deployment of US-led foreign troops.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said the return of sovereignty would “facilitate the return of stability to Iraq”.

“This is what Egypt wishes for the Iraqi people, for them to have the opportunity to run their own affairs and to recover total sovereignty,” added the minister.

The Saudi cabinet, in its weekly meeting chaired by King Fahd, expressed “satisfaction with the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq”, the official news agency SPA reported.

Kuwait and another oil-rich Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), hailed the restoration of sovereignty to Iraq and also voiced hope for a return of stability in the region.

“We are pleased with the transfer of power to the Iraqi people,” Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah told reporters.

“Kuwait is ready to give Iraq any sort of help to recover its stability,” said the sheikh, whose country was occupied by Saddam’s forces between August 1990 and February 1991.

In Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s cabinet also welcomed the handover of power as “an important new stage along the road to the stability of Iraq.”

The cabinet of the oil-rich UAE urged other countries to aid the fledgling Baghdad government “to restore security and stability and to reconstruct Iraq.”

Bahrain’s King Hamad also sent Mr Yawar a congratulatory telegram telling him that Manama “wished to strengthen relations with Iraq,” the official BNA news agency reported.

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