Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jordan Tells Iran of Concern Over Hamas Support

Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters:
Jordan's King Abdullah on Wednesday told Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki of his concern about Tehran's hostility to Israel and support for Palestinian militant groups, officials said. Jordanian officials last month accused the Palestinian militant group Hamas of plotting to stage attacks on its soil using smuggled weapons, including Iranian rocket launchers. READ MORE

Mottaki, making a rare visit by a senior Iranian official, was told of Jordan's displeasure about Tehran's backing for Hamas, officials said.

"We are very concerned about Tehran's support for radical groups that seek to wreck peace accords and push the region toward greater bloodshed," an official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters without elaborating.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made a series of anti-Israel remarks in recent months and Tehran in April pledged to give $50 million to the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority.

Mottaki told reporters after his talks with the pro-U.S. monarch that "many issues were discussed in a friendly atmosphere". He declined to comment further.

Officials said he extended an invitation to the monarch to visit Tehran to boost bilateral ties.

Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in January, is sworn to the destruction of Israel, which signed a peace accord with Jordan in 1994. Continued...

Jordanian officials privately support U.S.-led efforts to isolate the Palestinian government until Hamas embraces Middle East peacemaking.

A palace statement said Abdallah and Mottaki had also discussed Iraq. Jordan echoes similar fears by Iraq's Arab Sunni neighbours over Shi'ite Iran's growing influence over their co-religionists in Iraq.

"His Majesty stressed the need to support the political process in Iraq and urged Iraqis to stand against those seeking to inflame sectarian killings and expressed his concern over this," the palace statement said.

Mottaki briefed King Abdullah on Iran's showdown with the West over its nuclear program. Jordan wants a diplomatic solution to the standoff, which it fears is fuelling regional instability.

Resorting to "force will lead to catastrophic consequences for the security and the stability of the region," the monarch told the Iranian official, according to the palace statement.