Friday, April 13, 2007

Iran Complains On Summit Location

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

An upcoming summit scheduled for the 3-4 of May is set to include Foreign Ministers from Iraq and its' neighbors, as well as U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other countries in the region. The conference will tackle security issues facing Iraq, and the roles of its neighbors and allies. Set in Sharm El Sheikh, an area popular with tourists, the meeting is seen as a significant evolution of the United States' policy towards Iran and Syria. Although no individual meetings between Secretary Rice and her Middle Eastern counterparts will take place, this may be seen as the adoption of a recommendation made by the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report released last December.

Yet despite the conference being a few weeks away, Iran has made headlines by publicly disapproving of holding the conference in Egypt, a sign of the strained relationship shared by the two nations:
Iran has objected to the choice of Egypt as the summit venue, and has said that if the conference is not held inside Iraq then it is not sure it will send a delegation to attend.

"Iran has not yet decided and Tehran's decision regarding this conference will be announced in due course," Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Reza Baqeri told the Fars news agency.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran wants the conference to be held in Baghdad or one of the cities in that country but if the conference is to be held outside Iraq then they should get the agreement of all relevant parties," he added.

It will be interesting to see if and how Egypt responds; Saudi Arabia had some strong words for Iran earlier this week, distancing itself from the Persian nation's antics of late. Will Egypt respond, and what will it mean for the growing Sunni-Shi'aa divide between nations?

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