Egypt ready to send delegation to Iraq

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CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Sunday said Cairo was ready to send a fact-finding delegation to Baghdad to evaluate security conditions for opening an embassy in the Iraqi capital.

The mission is ready to go [to Baghdad] as soon as the Iraqi authorities inform us that they can receive it and provide it with the adequate climate to carry out its work, Aboul Gheit told reporters.

It will examine the situation on the ground, he said at a joint news conference with the visiting Bahraini foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa.

When we set up an embassy in Iraq we want to guarantee that conditions will be favorable and that its security will not be undermined, Aboul Gheit added.

Bahrain s foreign minister also insisted that security must prevail in Iraq for Arab countries to open embassies there.

The presence of a diplomatic mission in Iraq is important to affirm our support for that country, but the issue of security is as important and guaranteeing the security of diplomats is very important, he said.

Cairo has had no official diplomatic representative in Iraq since the July 2005 abduction and murder of its charge d affaires in Baghdad, Ihab Al-Sharif, by Al-Qaeda.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki last month appealed to Sunni Arab states to help stabilize Iraq by living up to pledges to forgive his country s debts, erasing war reparations and reopening embassies in Baghdad.

Also last month US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the foreign ministers of Washington s Sunni Arab allies to reopen their embassies in Baghdad, as part of efforts to shore up its Shia-led government.

Saudi Arabia, one of Washington s key regional allies, said in April it will re-open its embassy in Iraq only when security is restored. -AFP

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