The US president George W Bush has arrived in Jordan for two days of talks with the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But a crucial meeting between the two leaders has been delayed until this morning, prompting rumours that relations have been tested by recent events.
Both men have held separate meetings with their host, King Abdullah II. But officials insist the delayed meeting has nothing to do with a leaked memo in which Bush’s national security adviser Stephen Hadley voiced grave doubts over al-Maliki and his ability to control the situation in Iraq.
In a separate development, the Iraqi political group loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr withdrew from the government in protest at the meeting – heaping pressure on the already embattled al-Maliki. Jordan has voiced its concerns over the lack of progress in Iraq and the growing influence of Iran in the region. Bush’s future policy in Iraq could be shaped by the findings of the independent Iraq Study Group which will publish its vision for the way forward on December 6.