Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Big Three: Talabani rejects the three-country summit idea after meeting Khalilzad and Hakim says US ambassador Khalilzad met on Wednesday with Iraqi president Talabani and SCIRI head Abdulaziz al-Hakim, and the commemorative photo published by Elaph shows a room with the curtains drawn, with from left to right the ambassador, a fruit-bowl, Talabani, an Iraqi flag, another flag that is mostly dark green with what appears to be a map in the center, possibly not a map of Iraq, and Hakim himself. Following the meeting Talabani's office issued a statement that said the three of them studied the political and security situation in Iraq, and procedures for calling a future meeting of the national political-security committee. The statement also said in his meetings with heads of neighboring countries, Talabani will try be discussing economic and security issues, and will be trying to convince them to stop the infiltration of terrorists.

The Elaph reporter adds: Talabani said we have no intention of holding a three-country summit (Iraq-Iran-Syria), as had been reported in various places. He said he will be going to Damascus after his trip to Tehran; the Damascus invitation was a prior one, and Syrian foreign minister Moallem [also] conveyed it during his recent visit to Baghdad.

Also yesterday, the White House said Bush will be going to Amman on Wednesday November 29 for his own version of a three-country summit, to include himself, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, and King Abdullah of Jordan. Al-Hayat quotes Steven Hadley to the effect major topics will be the condition of the Iraqi armed forces, their training and development, the speeding up of that, and so on. But the reporter stresses the unhappiness of the US administration with Maliki's handling of the militias, noting a Time magazine story critical of Maliki's "leniency" in that regard.

The Al-Hayat reporter says Hadley mentioned that "the discussions will be limited to generalities, and there won't be a final communique." Which, when you dress it up for American consumption in the New York Times, comes out like this: "But White House officials appeared to play down expectations for the meeting, with Mr Hadley telling reporters, 'We're not looking for big, bold announcements'".


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