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Turkey, Egypt call for disbanding of militia, oil sharing in Iraq

Thu Jan 11, 4:10 PM ET

Egypt and Turkey highlighted the disbanding of militias in Iraq, the luring of Sunni Arabs into politics and a share-out of the country's oil revenues as primary measures for restoring stability in Iraq.

Foreign ministers Ahmed Abul Gheit of Egypt and Abdullah Gul of Turkey also underlined that US arch-foes Iran and Syria should be engaged in efforts to stabilize Iraq, rather than being isolated by the United States.

"In order to end the adverse situation in Iraq, all measures should target the stability of Iraq," Gheit told reporters through an interpreter when asked about US President George W. Bush's new plan to end violence in Iraq.

"Before all, the militias in Iraq should be disbanded as soon as possible," he said. "The Iraqi government should act on that and the coalition forces should help them."

Gheit also said that Sunni Arabs should be encouraged to re-enter politics through constitutional ammendements and that all Iraqi groups should be encouraged to join the security forces.

Gul, for his part, singled out the sharing of oil revenues and the status of the ethnically mixed oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk as some of the most pressing problems in his country's southern neighbor.

"Those problems should be resolved in order to end violence... If uncertainty on those issues continues, people will stick to violence in the hope of gaining more say on them in the future," Gul said.

"Of course, we want President Bush's new strategy to be successful... but we cannot say from now whether it will," he added.

Both ministers spoke against polarization in the region by possible US moves to isolate Iran and Syria, accused of supporting Iraqi insurgents.

"Egypt has good ties with all of Iraq's neighbors and all Arab countries. We wish to cooperate with everybody in order to achieve stability in Iraq," Gheit said.

"And we are warning everybody against meddling in Iraq's internal affairs," he added.

Gul said: "Polarization will be wrong... Falling into such a trap will be wrong. We all must be constructive and work together to help Iraq restore its stability."

The two ministers said they also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Lebanon.

Gheit was scheduled to wrap up his two-day visit Friday after talks with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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