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UPDATED: 08:45, July 27, 2004
Iraq not to establish diplomatic ties with Israel: Allawi
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Visiting Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said here Monday that his country would note stablish diplomatic ties with Israel before the Arab world.

In a joint press conference with his Lebanese counterpart Rafiqel-Hariri, Allawi asserted that Iraq was against establishing or normalizing relations with Israel.

Refuting a report by the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat on the issue as "totally inaccurate," the Iraqi prime minister said he would not allow the Iraqis to travel to Israel.

"Any future ties between Iraq and Israel will be determined by the international legitimacy and the Arab-adopted option of fair and comprehensive peace," he underscored.

Allawi denied that Iraq turned to be a base for the Israeli intelligence and mocked at reports saying that there were up to 10,000 Israelis in Iraq.

"Iraq would never harbor any activities that target any Arab country," he promised.

On bilateral relations between Iraq and Lebanon, Allawi told reporters after his expanded talks with Hariri that the two countries will establish a higher joint strategic committee to be co-chaired by the two prime ministers in order to exchange cooperation and coordination in all sectors.

"The talks were positive and excellent," he said, adding "they left the door wide-open for real and solid ties between Iraq and Lebanon."

The higher joint committee will work to enhance the bilateral economic and trade ties and study the strategic projects between the two countries, especially in oil, gas, transport and banking sectors.

Talking about recently signed security document between Iraq and Syria, Allawi said it set controls for the joint borders between the two Arab neighbors after the Iraqi authorities arrested someArab and Islamic militants who infiltrated the borders to carry out violent attacks in Iraq. "Some militants were caught red-handed," he noted.

For his part, Hariri said Lebanon and Iraq are ready and open for cooperation in the areas of economy, trade, health, banking, tourism, training and experience exchanges.

The interior and foreign ministries of the two countries signed a protocol on the free movement of individuals between them, the Lebanese prime minister noted.

The ownership of the money, deposited by Iraqi institutions in Lebanese banks, was confirmed after the Iraqi government made sure of the signatures of former officials, Hariri said.

Meanwhile, he was reassured by Allawi that the issue of the money, deposited in Iraqi banks by Lebanese individuals, will also be tackled in a way that protects the Lebanese' rights in Iraq.

Allawi disclosed that Iraq was ready to resume oil exports through the pipe-line between Iraqi oil fields and Lebanese sea-ports. However, the issue needs further talks with Syria as the oil pipe-line passes through it, Hariri noted.

He added that Lebanon agrees that Iraq makes use of the four-party gas pipe-line among Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Earlier on Monday, Hariri and Allawi held expanded talks that included ministers from both sides, which dealt with the developments of the situations in the Middle East, with emphasis on the situation in Iraq, as will as ways of developing the bilateral economic, trade and political ties between the two countries.

Joint ministerial ad hoc committees will be formed to activate the economic ties and solve any problems that may face the bilateral strategic projects.

Source: Xinhua

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