Ministers from 20 countries to meet next month on Iraq

Envoys from nations neighboring Iraq, as well as Bahrain, Egypt, and five permanent UNSC members will participate.

iraq bombing 88 (photo credit: )
iraq bombing 88
(photo credit: )
Ministers from Iraq's neighboring countries, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and industrialized nations will hold a meeting in Egypt early next month to discuss the situation in Iraq, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Saturday. The meeting, which was supposed to be held in Turkey, follows an international conference held in Baghdad last month in which Iran held direct talks with the United States for the first time in years, Zebari said at a news conference. Ministers from Iraq's neighbors as well as Bahrain and Egypt, and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, will hold a meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik on May 3-4, Zebari said. Permanent members of the UN Security Council include the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain. Also in attendance, Zebari said, will be officials from the so-called Group of Eight industrialized nations: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the US. "There is a feeling of how dangerous the situation is and a feeling of rising regional tension that negatively affects the situation in Iraq," Zebari said. "There is a big willingness from neighboring countries to try help in solving the problem." Hinting that there might be additional meetings between US and Iranian officials, Zebari said: "I won't rule out bilateral talks between participating countries. The Baghdad conference was a starting point and was an attempt to break the ice." Zebari said after the early May meeting, another international Iraq summit will follow in Egypt to sign the Iraq Compact - a five-year plan that requires the Iraqi government to enact key political and economic reforms as it moves toward financial self-sufficiency and economic integration. Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted a conference at UN headquarters for nearly 100 envoys and urged international support for the Iraq Compact.