Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mideast Nations Have Held Secret Talks, Say Diplomats

By Salah Nasrawi
Associated Press
April 5, 2006

CAIRO, Egypt - Top intelligence officers from several Arab countries and Turkey have been meeting secretly to coordinate their governments' strategies in case civil war erupts in Iraq and in an attempt to block Iran's interference in the war-torn nation, Arab diplomats said Tuesday.

The meetings came after several Arab leaders voiced concerns about possible Shiite domination of Iraq and their alliance with Iran.

The four diplomats said intelligence chiefs from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and non-Arab Turkey held a series of meetings over the last few weeks to assess the situation in Iraq and work out plans to avoid any regional backlash that may result from sectarian conflict in Iraq.

The diplomats in several Middle Eastern capitals, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Iran and Syria have been excluded from the talks.

One diplomat whose country is involved in the talks said the officials are focusing on the proposed U.S.-Iranian dialogue on Iraq and the implications on Arabs and Turkey of any ''American-Iranian deal.''

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