Abdullah said the United States had communicated its concern to Iran through third parties, although he predicted a showdown. "There's going to be some sort of clash at one point or another," he said. "We hope it's just a clash of words and politics and not a clash of civilizations or peoples on the ground. We will know a bit better how it will play out after the [Iraqi] election."
In Baghdad, interim Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih warned neighboring governments that Iraq is losing patience with them for not doing more to stop the insurgency, which undermines the prospects for peaceful elections.
"There is evidence indicating that some groups in some neighboring countries are playing a direct role in the killing of the Iraqi people, and such a thing is not acceptable to us," Salih said. "We have reached a stage in which, if we do not see a real response from those countries, then we are obliged to take a decisive stance."
Violence continues to generate skepticism about whether legitimate elections can be held in two months. After talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he "cannot imagine" how elections can go forward.
But after meeting with President Bush on Monday, Yawar and Abdullah said they are committed to pressing fellow Sunnis to drop threats to boycott the elections and move quickly to register candidates.
The Jordanian monarch said sitting out the election would only hurt Sunnis. "My advice to the Sunnis in Iraq, and that I will make public, is to get engaged, get into the system and do the best that you can come January 30," he said. "If you don't and you lose out, then you only have yourselves to blame."
The Iraqi president said there is no point in delaying elections, as Sunni leaders have urged. "Extending the election date will just prolong our agony," he said. He predicted Sunnis will ultimately participate, adding that many of the same leaders agitating against the Jan. 30 date have begun preparing their own campaigns.
Yawar said he is putting together a balanced, "all-Iraqi list" of candidates that would cross sectarian lines, in apparent contrast to the Shiite-dominated candidate slate.
A civil engineer educated at George Washington University, he expressed hope that U.S. troops could begin withdrawing from Iraq by the end of 2005 if Iraqi authorities train enough of their own troops.
"When we have our security forces qualified and capable of taking the job, then we will start seeing the beginning of decreasing forces, and that's in hopefully a year's time," he said. But he would not indicate when he hoped the last U.S. soldiers would leave. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters this week he expected the U.S. military to withdraw within four years.