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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] <http://www.arabia.com/afp/news/mideast/article/english/0,10846,243878,00.h tml> Jordan insists it will not help US attacks on Iraq AMMAN (AFP) - Authorities in Jordan are strongly denying a stream of foreign press reports suggesting the kingdom could be used as a launch-pad for US attacks on Iraq. "Everything that has been written on this subject is the fruit of pure imagination," Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher told AFP Thursday. "These reports are without any foundations and our denials are 200 percent true," Moasher said. The reports have appeared in heavyweight newspapers like the New York Times and the London Times -- which quoted Western diplomats Thursday as saying Amman had consented to a limited US presence -- as well as the Lebanese press. They have suggested that forward bases for US troops have been set up in Jordan, in preparation for an invasion. "It is not unusual for American troops to come to Jordan as part of exchange programmes agreed upon with the United States for the dispatch of experts," Moasher replied Thursday. "They come and go. It is part of routine military contacts between our countries," he added. "Jordan carries out regularly joint military exercises with the United States. It does the same with other countries like France and Britain. "But I categorically deny that these exercises, or that the presence of US troops (in Jordan) is related closely or distantly to Iraq," Moasher said. Jordan's King Abdullah II has repeatedly said that any US military action against Iraq before a solution to the Middle East crisis is found would have "devastating" repercussions for the region and harm US interests. "The United States has not asked Jordan to use its territory or its air space to strike Iraq," Moasher said on Thursday. Last week the foreign minister summoned Iraqi ambassador Sabah Yassin to reaffirm "Jordan's rejection of the use of force against Baghdad and its concern to preserve the territorial integrity, security and stability" of Iraq. Moasher even invited the ambassador to visit Jordanian military bases to see for himself that no US troops are on the ground. A Western diplomat based in Amman confirmed to AFP that the barrage of press reports suggesting that Jordan was being dragged into an eventual US offensive on Iraq were incorrect. "Yes, the United States regularly conducts joint military exercises with the Jordanians, yes, American troops come (here) often, but for different reasons that have nothing to do with Iraq," he said. "Everything that has been written on this issue does not correspond to reality," the diplomat said. He said Jordan cannot afford to be drawn into any action against its neighbour. "A large part of the Jordanian population is very pro-Iraq and at the same time is concerned by the gravity of the situation in the Palestinian territories," he said. "An attack on Iraq will fuel antagonism towards the United States and against any Arab regime that helps them in this task," the diplomat added. He warned that the US would be putting Jordan, a key Arab ally, into a high-risk situation which he said it can little afford. "The United States has no interest in putting Jordan in a mission impossible situation. It can use other countries who face the risk of internal destabilisation less," he added. During the 1991 US-led Gulf war to end Iraqi occupation of Iraq, Jordan, then ruled by Abdullah's father the late King Hussein, declined to join the coalition against Baghdad, its main trade partner and oil supplier. Plagued by an ailing economy, Jordan receives 150 million dollars in annual economic aid from Washington and US President George W. Bush asked Congress in March to allocate an addition 100 million dollars. Amman is also expected to obtain 75 million dollars in US military aid this year. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk