Summit calls for speedy US withdrawal

16 February 2004
The foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbours have called for the speedy withdrawal of occupation forces and have agreed to increase border security to prevent the entry of terrorist groups into the war-torn country. The ministers, who held two-day talks in Kuwait City that included Iraqi interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari for the first time, also underlined the importance of the UN's involvement in the handover of political power from the US-led coalition.

Zebari confirmed the agreement on border security by telling the AFP news agency: 'We have asked neighbouring countries to help us in controlling the borders more effectively to prevent infiltrators and terrorist groups from sneaking into Iraq to carry out terrorist and criminal attacks.' He added: 'They gave a positive response. The issue will be followed up by forming bilateral security committees between Iraq, on the one hand, and Syria, Iran, Jordan, Turkey and maybe Saudi Arabia.'

Zebari also said that Iraq will be asking the US to hand former leader Saddam Hussein back to the Iraqis. 'We will demand changing his status and handing him over to Iraqi justice to put him on trial,' he said.

The next meeting is to take place in Egypt sometime before 1 July, a statement said.

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