Arab Foreign Ministers Blocked in Consultations over Iraq
Arab foreign ministers and delegates were locked Saturday in consultations over Iraq while a committee met to draft the final communiqué of the summit that opens three days later, said AFP.
The committee contains a representative from each delegation in the 22-member state Arab League which has gathered in Amman in preparation for the two-day ordinary summit that opens on Tuesday, officials told the agency.
The committee is tasked with drafting the final communiqué which will then be presented to the foreign ministers for ratification ahead of the statement's submission to the summit, they added.
Meanwhile, foreign ministers huddled in the rooms and lobby of a five-star hotel in western Amman in small groups to exchange views on what position to take on Iraq after starting two days of talks Saturday morning in order to finalize the summit's agenda.
An Arab minister earlier told AFP that consultations would be held Saturday afternoon "to strive to find consensus on Iraq" with each delegate asked to give its point of view.
"We will hear the views of Arab Gulf ministers and the Iraqi delegate and we will strive to reach a compromise between the two positions," the minister said.
"The only problem facing us is Iraq," the minister added.
But he admitted it would be "less serious to have one country (Iraq) rejecting consensus than six," in reference to the six Arab Gulf monarchies which include Baghdad's archrivals Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Arab officials earlier told AFP that Iraq was trying to dominate the summit by asking Arab leaders to urge the UN Security Council to allow Baghdad to finance the Palestinian uprising against Israel. However, it was meeting staunch opposition from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
"Iraq is trying to obtain Arab support for a unilateral lifting of UN sanctions by urging Arabs to support the delivery of aid to the Palestinians -- an issue which they can all but support," an official said.
The aid is to be financed by revenues from sanctions-hit Baghdad's oil exports, which the United Nations authorizes in return for humanitarian imports to Iraq. The revenues are held in a UN escrow account.
During the opening session, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr
Moussa said that a huge responsibility is laid on the shoulders of this meeting in preparing for the upcoming meeting of Arab leaders, the official Petra news agency quoted him as saying.
He pointed out that the implementation of the mechanism “There is an Arab world which must have a status on the regional and international levels…There are Arab societies who are always looking for a better future and there is an Arab human being who is looking for stronger positive ties with his Arab brethren all over the Arab world,” he said.
For his part, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Al Khatib expressed hope that the Amman summit will be the beginning of a new dawn in which the Arab nation will be able to deal with the various issues and confront the challenges, said Petra.
Khatib called for enhancing joint Arab action and economic cooperation for a better life to Arab citizens.
"This would strengthen our ability in dealing with our major issues in a positive manner," he was quoted as saying.
In another development, Palestinian officials told Petra that the Palestinian delegation presented a report on the current situation in the Palestinian territories to Arab foreign ministers.
“The report dealt with the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s recent visit to Washington, Israel’s blockade on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the US position towards Israeli practices against the Palestinian people,” said an official.
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