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Tue 25 Aug 2020 09:59 AM

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Jordan summit still on after Iraqi minister tests positive for Covid-19

Iraq's telecommunications minister Arkan al-Shaybani has tested positive for Covid-19

Jordan summit still on after Iraqi minister tests positive for Covid-19

An Amman summit between Jordan, Iraq and Egypt will go ahead Tuesday with extra precautions, officials said, 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 the entire delegation was placed in confinement after the minister tested positive, 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 travelling 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.

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 jihadists.

"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 neared 208,000, with deaths at nearly 6,500 - making it one of the hardest-hit countries in the Middle East.

Shaybani is the first Iraqi minister to contract the novel coronavirus.

On Monday, the deputy speaker of Iraq's parliament Hassan al-Kaabi also announced he had tested positive.

Between lawmakers and their staff, there are more than 60 cases in parliament.

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

The World Health Organisation has warned that Iraq's cases are "exponentially rising to an alarming and worrying level, suggesting a major health crisis soon".

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