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Jamali to discuss Iraq, troops during Iran visit

Islamabad, Oct. 20: Pakistan Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali will leave for Iran tomorrow for talks on the volatile situation in Iraq.

Jamali’s talks with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami will also focus on the US-backed resolution in the Security Council for deployment of a multinational force in Iraq, foreign ministry officials said.

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) had on Thursday welcomed the US resolution at the conclusion of its summit meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Iran has often objected to the American presence in Iraq.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are unwilling to contribute troops to Iraq in the absence of an international legal cover and not before a consensus among the Islamic countries is reached on the issue.

Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud-al-Faisal and his Pakistani counterpart Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said in Islamabad yesterday that troops would not be sent to Iraq in the absence of a consensus among OIC member states.

“The timing of Jamali’s visit to Iran is very significant especially in light of the American threats to Teheran’s nuclear programme and and the explosive situation in Iraq,” said Dr Shireen Mazari, director general Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS).

Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharazi had said in Islamabad last month that Iran’s nuclear programme was completely peaceful. He said the US has no right to criticise the programme particularly when Tehran is open to international verification.

Mazari said sending troops to to Iraq is a sensitive issue and it required cooperation between Islamabad and Tehran to build a consensus among the Islamic states. Both leaders will also discuss President Pervez Musharraf’s latest proposal for establishment of a commission within the OIC for restructuring of the organisation.

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