05/03/2007, 00.00
EGYPT - IRAQ

Sharm el-Sheikh is closed down: a two day summit for Iraq kicks off

Two “parallel and independent” summits: today the International Compact for Iraqis launched; tomorrow bordering countries take front stage; small hopes of an Iran-US meeting. Maximum security levels in place in Sharm el-Sheikh and the entire region.

Sharm el-Sheikh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Sharm el-Sheikh was closet off today for the first of two “parallel, but independent” conferences aimed at resolving the security crises and boosting the economy in Iraq.  Today May 3rd the International Compact for Iraq (ICI), co-chaired by Iraq and the UN through the UN special adviser and supported by the World Bank will be launched. the international meeting, which sees the participation of the G8 and European Union is set to approve a five year plan for security measures and economic development.

The second summit, tomorrow May 4th will gathers foreign ministers from countries bordering Iraq, in an attempt to further political and cationic integration in the region.  The invitation was also extended to include western delegations.  There are great expectations for a possible meeting between Syria, Iran and the US all present at the Red Sea resort.  But no one is betting on a miracle.  If on the one hand US secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has expressed her willingness to discuss “any question that is asked” with Tehran, Iranian president  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  for his part has repeated that Washington would be “mistaken” in thinking there can be any negotiation over the nation’s nuclear programme.  Any eventual bilateral encounter would be the first since 1979, after the US hostage crises in the Tehran embassy, which led to a break down in diplomatic relations.

Preparations for the “independent but parallel” summits brought with it a massive increase in security measures throughout the region, as the Iraqi foreign minister pointed out, an at the Sinai checkpoints officials have clamped down on crossings.  In order to dissuade any possible attack, many Egyptian who frequent the city have been invited to leave the area.  Only regular contract workers and residents have been permitted to stay in Sharm el-Sheikh.

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