Arab leaders hold crisis summit on Iraq
Arab leaders meeting in Egypt on Saturday will try to forge a unified policy on Iraq they hope can prevent a U.S.-led war.
As Washington continues its massive military build-up in the Gulf, the one-day summit of the 22-member Arab League will try to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
The leaders will discuss a draft declaration which delegates have said includes a rejection of a strike against Iraq as well as a possible call on Arab states to refrain from participating in a war, AP reported.
Delegates said the Arab leaders might also discuss the possibility of sending envoys to Baghdad, Washington and other key capitals to explain their views in hopes of averting war.
They said the foreign ministers had already agreed on draft resolutions on a number of other topics, including renewed support for a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
The foreign ministers called for Arab states to make a last-ditch peace mission to avoid war in Iraq, according to an agreement reached early Saturday setting the agenda for the crisis summit.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the foreign ministers had managed to come to unanimous agreement. "It does send a message to all concerned that we cannot support military action against Iraq and that we are for the full implementation of the (U.N.) Security Council resolutions," Moussa said.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Arab leaders to emerge from their summit with a call on Saddam to "step down and get out of the way and let some responsible leadership take over in Baghdad."
But Egypt stressed that the Arab League could not issue such a call. "We are not in the business of changing the regime of one country or another," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said. "We can only ask all parties to abide by international resolutions in order to avoid war."