After Baghdad Visit, Iran to Attend Mideast 'Neighbors Summit'
Concrete gains may be slim, however. Officials are billing the conference as the next step in what they hope will be an ongoing regional and international diplomatic effort to help quell Iraq's war. The one anticipated outcome is an "International Compact with Iraq" that the United Nations and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh have labored to forge for over a year. Over 40 countries have agreed to sign the document, which pledges to provide economic and developmental help to Iraq if it meets a series of economic and political conditions. New aid pledges are expected, but even old pledges made at an earlier conference in Madrid remained unfulfilled.
"The international compact outlines Iraq's vision for political and economic reform," Saleh told U.S. News. "It is important for Iraq to become an international mission. We are not asking for help without any conditions."
Aside from that, the conference may not produce more than a communiqué of supportalthough even that may give a boost to beleaguered Iraq.
"The neighbors' conference is part of a longer-term process," a diplomat said. "It is an opportunity to pull together several circles of Iraq's supporters."
Yet hopes that neighboring governments might announce concrete steps, such as reopening embassies, have faded away amid disputes over real estate and continuing concerns about security. A U.S. government official here says that the most concrete development is likely to be the launching of working groups to address border security, fuel issues and refugeesas millions of Iraqis have fled the ongoing violence to Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.