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Jordan hosts ME summit in bid to defuse regional tensions

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SWEIMEH: Jordan was hosting a Middle East summit on Tuesday, bringing together regional and international players hoping to help resolve regional crises, particularly in neighbouring Iraq.

The “Baghdad II” meeting, which also includes officials from France and the European Union, follows an August 2021 summit in Iraq’s capital organised at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Iraq only recently arrived at a fragile compromise government after a year of political stalemate.

The summit, held at Sweimeh on the shores of the Dead Sea, was aimed at providing “support for the stability, security and prosperity of Iraq”, the French presidency said in a statement, adding it hoped this would benefit “the entire region”.

The meeting takes place as several countries in the region are mired in unrest.

The meeting was also being attended by the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, who has been mediating talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Borrell met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Tuesday ahead of the summit’s official launch.

The European diplomat tweeted that the meeting was “necessary... amidst deteriorating Iran-EU relations” and that they agreed to keep communications open.Baghdad II will see Jordan host Iraq’s new Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al Sudani, Iran’s foreign minister and delegations from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“This summit has great ambitions but no one expects miracles,” says Riad Kahwaji, director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

France’s role as a mediator is crucial, Kahwaji said, with Paris “keeping the thread of dialogue on behalf of Westerners with Iran, especially as the Vienna nuclear negotiations are currently in stalemate”.

In its statement, the French presidency said it hoped for “continuity” from the new Iraqi leader.

Hamzeh Hadad, a visiting scholar at the European Council on Foreign Relations, believes the first summit in 2021 had been intended to allow Kadhemi to show he could “gather neighbouring leaders, in particular the Gulf states, in Baghdad”.

During this meeting, Sudani will have to demonstrate “he can maintain these relations and show that they do not depend on personal ties”, Hadad said. — AFP

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