Iran's foreign minister visits Jordan - 17 May, 2006 - News

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was in Jordan Wednesday for talks expected to focus on his country's nuclear program, Iraq and Mideast peacemaking.

Mottaki went into a meeting with his Jordanian counterpart, Abdul-Illah al-Khatib, shortly after his arrival in the Jordanian capital for a brief visit. Their meeting was to focus on bilateral relations and regional issues, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said.

But the ministers were also expected to discuss Jordan's tense relations with the militant Palestinian Hamas movement over the discovery of an arms cache in the kingdom, including Iranian-made Katyusha rockets. Amman has said the arms, discovered April 18, were to be used in attacks against Jordanian public institutions and officials.

Iraq is also expected to figure high on the agenda. Jordan has accused Iran of meddling in Iraq's internal political affairs and King Abdullah II has been critical of Iran's growing influence in the region, accusing Shiite but non-Arab Iran of seeking to create a "Shiite crescent" that would include Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Jordan is concerned about Iran's nuclear program and, like other Arab countries, has called for a Mideast free of weapons of mass destruction. It has called for dialogue between Iran and the West, saying the already volatile region should be spared another crisis.

Jordan has experienced bumpy relations with Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Like other moderate Arab states, the kingdom has been concerned about the spread of Iranian-style radical political Islam in the region. Official visits between the two countries have been rare, reports the AP.

I.L.