Despite Iraq minister catching COVID-19, Jordan summit still on

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An Amman summit between Jordan, Iraq and Egypt will go ahead Tuesday, officials said, with extra precautions after Iraq’s telecommunications minister tested positive for COVID-19.

Minister Arkan al-Shaybani and fellow Iraqi officials were tested upon landing in Amman on Friday and were put under confinement following the positive result, according to a statement by Jordan’s information minister Amjad al-Adayla.

“This required implementing medical procedures put in place to protect the health of our guest while he is in the kingdom,” Adayla said in comments carried Monday by Jordan’s official Petra news agency.

Shaybani was traveling to Amman for a tripartite summit on Tuesday between the leaders of Iraq, Jordan and Egypt to discuss trade, telecommunications and oil.

The one-day meeting will bring King Abdullah II of Jordan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi together with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi for the first time.

A picture taken on April 27, 2020, shows the Jordanian flying waving in the wind over the capital Amman. (AFP)
A picture taken on April 27, 2020, shows the Jordanian flying waving in the wind over the capital Amman. (AFP)

Iraq’s oil and trade ministers will also travel to Jordan.

The gathering comes just days after Kadhemi’s return from Washington, which has long urged its allies in the region to band together against Iranian influence.

Jordan, Egypt and Iraq have held similar meetings in the past two years, mostly focused on infrastructure and coordinating the fight against extremists.

“The summit will still take place on Tuesday but the size of the delegations and the meeting times will be limited as a precautionary measure,” Kadhemi’s spokesman, Ahmad Mullal Talal, told AFP.

Iraq’s coronavirus caseload has topped 205,000, with deaths at nearly 6,500.

The World Health organization has warned that Iraq’s cases are “exponentially rising to an alarming and worrying level, suggesting a major health crisis soon.”

Shaybani is the first Iraqi minister to contract the novel coronavirus. Around two dozen members of parliament have been tested positive in recent months.

The virus claimed the life of one Iraqi parliamentarian last month and a presidential adviser last week.

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