Iranian Influence In Mideast Criticized By Arab Allies Of U.S.

Iranian Influence In Mideast Criticized By Arab Allies Of U.S.
May 20th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iranian Influence In Mideast Criticized By Arab Allies Of U.S.

Iranian Influence In Mideast Criticized By Arab Allies Of U.S.
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
May 20, 2007
By Associated Press
SOUTHERN SHUNEH, Jordan Washington's Arab allies harshly criticized Iran's growing influence in the Middle East, telling the country's top diplomat at a high-level conference Saturday that it must stay out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and be more open about its nuclear ambitions.
Dominating many discussions at the World Economic Forum was the deadly violence between the Fatah Palestinian faction and Hamas militants, which has helped stall a Saudi Arabian-sponsored plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the plan would flounder partly because Israel has no intention of striking a peace deal, but Arab countries focused their criticism on Iran.
"We had some 130 plans in the past 30 years, but none of them were realized because of the approach of the other side (Israel)," Mottaki said during a panel discussion. "Besides, we do not see any chance for the success of the Arab peace initiative because it fails to address fateful issues, like the capital of a Palestinian state and the right of return for some 5 million refugees."
Former Saudi ambassador to Washington Prince Turki al-Faisal scolded Iran, however, saying that the predominantly Persian country had little to do with Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
"It's an Arab issue and should be resolved within the Arab fold," he said.
Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit was even more blunt, saying: "The Iranian foreign minister was wrong when he said there were 130 plans on Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking. The Arab peace plan is the first of its kind. It presents a clear and detailed path to peacemaking."
Mottaki insisted that his country's goal was to help the resolve the Middle East's concurrent crises, which he blamed on the U.S. and Israel.
"Iran was always part of the solution to the crisis in the region. We have been in contact with governments in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan," he said during the panel on Mideast security and stability that also included Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Many of the 1,000 forum participants were political and business leaders from moderate Arab countries with strong military and diplomatic ties to Washington.

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