- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

AMMAN, Jordan, March 25 (UPI) — Jordanian Minister for Political Affairs Mohammed Affash al-Adwan denied on Tuesday that relations were strained with Iraq after Jordan expelled three Iraqi diplomats.

Commenting on harsh criticism by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri at a meeting of the Arab League Monday, al-Adwan told United Press International that Jordan "unfortunately, is always targeted by skepticism although no one can pretend to be more nationalistic regarding Iraq."

He said the Iraqi diplomats were asked to leave the kingdom because they "carried out security activities which contradicted their diplomatic mission."

"We hope the brothers in Iraq will understand our position, especially after his Majesty the King affirmed Jordan's willingness to replace them with other diplomats," al-Adwan said.

He said the Iraqi embassy staff and employees in Amman were operating normally.

He reaffirmed that Jordan will not be a launching pad for any military operations against Iraq. "Jordan's territory and air space will not be used in any military action targeting Iraq and there are no foreign warplanes in Jordan's space," he added.

Iraq's ambassador in Jordan Sabah Yassin said Baghdad was considering the possibility of replacing the three diplomats who were evicted on Sunday.

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