Iran: No Need for Region Meeting

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Iran believes there is no reason for a meeting of Iraq's neighbors planned later this week in Amman, Tehran's ambassador to Jordan said Monday in a further indication of a strain in relations following accusations by Jordan's King Abdullah II (search) that Iran was seeking to influence the upcoming Iraqi elections.

A day earlier, Tehran said Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi (search) would not attend Thursday's meeting.

Iran will be represented by one of its deputy foreign ministers, Golam Ali Khorsho, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raja Sukiyaki told the official Jordanian news agency Pert on Monday.

Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Irani said in a phone interview: "We don't believe there's a need for such a meeting now, at least not before the elections" in Iraq, scheduled for Jan. 30.

"What are we going to talk about? We discussed everything we needed to discuss in the November meeting," Irani added, referring to a ministerial meeting in Egypt.

Jordan has invited the foreign ministers of Iraq's other neighbors — Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria — and representatives from Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain to the meeting.

The U.N. special representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi (search), will also attend the meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sukayri told Petra.

Most of the Arab countries in the region have Sunni Muslim majority populations and are unsettled at the prospect of a Shiite Muslim-dominated government emerging from Iraq's Jan. 30 elections. Iraq's Shiite majority had been suppressed under Saddam Hussein.

Arabs in the region fear a Shiite regime in Iraq could both embolden their own Shiite communities and lead to Iraq's moving closer to mainly Shiite Iran or adopting Iran's Islamic state.

Jordan's King Abdullah charged in an interview last month that more than 1 million Iranians have entered Iraq, many to vote in elections, and said they were being encouraged by the Iranian government.

Iran called Abdullah's comments an insult to the Iraqi people.