Security slows down Egypt embassy opening in Iraq

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CAIRO: Egypt will need more time to ensure security measures are in place before it goes ahead with its decision to open an embassy in Iraq, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Iraq has offered Egypt two adjacent buildings in a safe place, but cameras and security are being installed, and it s a very expensive process, Aboul Gheit said, quoted by the state news agency MENA.

The process will be gradual and won t happen in a day and a night, the foreign minister said, without giving a specific timeframe.

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

Aboul Gheit visited Iraq early this month on the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister to Iraq in 18 years, accompanied by his country s Oil Minister Sameh Fahmi.

The situation in Iraq is stabilizing gradually, and the situation demands of a country such as Egypt, with interests in Iraq, to make its presence felt, Abul Gheit said.

Egyptian oil companies have said they are studying infrastructure and refining operations in Iraq.

Egypt is the latest Arab country seeking to strengthen ties with Iraq since April when the United States urged its Sunni Arab allies to reopen embassies in Baghdad in a bid to shore up the Maliki government.

Since then Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have named ambassadors to Baghdad and some Arab leaders, including Jordan s King Abdullah II, have visited Iraq.

Syria also named an ambassador to Iraq in September.

Early this month, Egyptian diplomat Hani Khallaf took up his post as head of the Arab League s mission in Iraq.

The job had been vacant since Morocco s Mukhtar Lamani resigned in January 2007 citing a lack of Arab vision over the conflict in Iraq. -AFP

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