March 3, 2011 / 10:01 AM / 9 years ago

Iraq agrees to delay Arab League summit in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has agreed to postpone an Arab League summit scheduled for March 29 in Baghdad at the request of Arab foreign ministers because of turmoil in some countries in the region, a government official said on Thursday.

Countries in the Middle East and north Africa have been rocked by protests against political repression and economic hardship which resulted in the ousting of long-serving rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

“It has been agreed to postpone holding the Arab summit for a maximum period until May 15 in order to understand the situations which are taking place now in some countries,” said Ali al-Moussawi, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s media adviser.

“The postponement has nothing to do with Iraq, which is ready to hold this summit.”

The Arab League summit is viewed as important for Iraq’s reintegration into the Arab world eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

A successful summit would help Iraq to reassure its neighbours, mainly Sunni Arab-dominated governments, who view the rise of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority with suspicion and fear the growing influence of Shi’ite-dominated Iran.

It would also be a test of the readiness of its army and police as U.S. troops fully withdraw by the end of the year. (Reporting by Waleed Ibrahim; writing by Jim Loney and Serena Chaudhry; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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