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AFP INTERVIEW: Jordan´s King Abdullah warns against partition of Iraq (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) AMMAN 01/27/05 12:32 PM ET)Source: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1515&ncid=1515&e=3&u=/afp/20050127/wl_mideast_afp/jordanabdullahiraq_050127173232 AFP} Agence France Presse AFP} Agence France Presse Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
AMMAN (AFP) - Jordan´s King Abdullah II warned against the risks of Iraq being partitioned and said elections were the best way to restore stability to the country, in an interview with AFP.

"I have cautioned against efforts by certain parties to sow discord and push towards sectarianism in Iraq," he said.

King Abdullah referred to "calls for the establishment of an autonomous region in southern Iraq that clearly amount to a suspect invitation to partition".

Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, who is running in Sunday´s general elections, called earlier this week for the establishment of an autonomous zone in mainly Shiite southern Iraq, like that of the Kurds in the north.

Jordan´s king said his comments had been "exaggerated or misinterpreted" when he warned in an earlier interview that Iran was using the Shiite majority in Iraq to try to create a Shiite "crescent" stretching to Lebanon.

Shiite Iran has rejected the accusations, which echoed the fears of Iraq´s Sunni Arab minority.

"Some people went too far in their interpretation of my words, in a desperate bid to falsify the facts and achieve their projects and ambitions," the king said.

"As a Hashemite Arab king, attached to the unity of the Iraqi people, the unity of its ranks and independent destiny, I was warning against attempts at division," he said.

"It is my duty to warn against any attempt to break up the unity of the Iraqi people and spread discord between the different communities," said King Abdullah.

"As a Hashemite, I speak in the name of all Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites," said the king, a direct descendant of Prophet Mohammed.

"We want them to be united, as they have always been, and we will oppose any attempt to damage this privileged relationship or our ties with our Shiite brothers," he said.

King Abdullah, who turns 43 on the day of the Iraqi elections, said the polls were "the only path to security and stability" in the country.

"We are working for widespread participation by the Iraqis to achieve security and democracy, and to adopt a new constitution. This is in the interests of Iraq, in the interests of us all, and of peace in the region."

Turning to the Middle East conflict, the king voiced optimism that new Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas could become "a strong and effective partner in the peace process" with Israel.

"Abu Mazen (Abbas) has a vision, a work plan and priorities ... He has always been against violence. He believes in dialogue and needs our support to rebuild institutions," he said.

"If Israel really wants peace, it should help the Palestinian leadership, ease economic restrictions and rapidly launch a dialogue," he said.

King Abdullah, who took over on the death of his father King Hussein in February 1999, said his aim was to make Jordan "an example of political openness ... security and stability" in the region.

"The world is changing and we must face the challenges of the century with new tools," said the king, who said he wanted to lead the Jordanian people toward "a process of development and reforms". (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/27/05)

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