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Iranian FM Will Not Attend Iraq Conference

2 January 2005 -- Iran announced today that Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi will boycott a scheduled conference of Iraq's neighbors in Jordan this week.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, said Iran doubts if the conference -- due to start in Amman on 6 January -- can be effective "at this period of time." He said Iran may send a lower-level official in place of Kharrazi, but did not elaborate.

Foreign ministers of Iraq's six neighbors -- Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran -- agreed at an international conference on Iraq last November to meet this month in Amman to discuss security concerns in Iraq as the country prepares for 30 January elections.

Last week, Iranian officials said they may boycott the meeting after Jordan's King Abdullah charged that Iran was meddling in Iraq's affairs. Iran rejects allegations of interference.