Arab Summit Opens
Arab leaders opened a summit Tuesday in Jordan to discuss Iraq's thorny ties with Kuwait, support for the Palestinians and policy on the new government of hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The inauguration speech was delivered by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in his capacity as the head of the previous summit in Cairo last October.
Mubarak did not directly mentioned the Iraqi-Kuwait conflict, although he called for peaceful resolutions to disputes among the Arab states, and enhancing Arab solidarity.
He hailed the settlement of the Qatari-Bahraini border dispute, and the agreement reached by the former and Saudi Arabia to end their border dispute.
Mubarak called for ending the internal conflict in Somalia, stressing that the Arab League charter should be observed through respecting sovereignty of member states.
Mubarak elaborated on three Egyptian proposals aimed at Arab economic unity.
They include the setting up of an Arab Free Trade Zone, holding an economic Arab summit in Cairo later this year and cooperation in the IT field.
Mubarak added that the nomination of his foreign minister, Amr Moussa to succeed Arab League secretary general Esmat Abdel Meguid, was a unanimous Arab decision.
Mubarak’s speech was followed by an address by Jordan’s King Abdullah, the current chairman of the summit, who also spoke in general terms about the issues on the summit’s agenda.
But the king called on lifting the sanctions on Iraq.
After that, Abdel Meguid delivered his farewell speech.
UN chief Kofi Annan, and chairmen of the Organization of African Unity, and Organization of the Islamic conference took their turn in delivering speeches.
Albawaba.com has learnt that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat will be delivering a speech at the morning session, according to a Palestinian official.
Head of Arafat's press office, Mohammad Odwan, said that the president was making changes to his address after Mubarak and King Abdullah's speeches.
The afternoon session will begin at 15:00 local time (17:00 GMT). The first working session will start immediately after the morning meeting.
The summit is the first ordinary gathering of the 22-member Arab League since 1990 and has been preceded by bitter wrangling over bids to forge a common position on Iraq, which has divided Arab ranks this past decade.
Arab foreign ministers toiled for the past three days over a resolution acceptable to Iraq and Kuwait, amid Iraqi demands for unilateral Arab action to lift UN economic sanctions imposed in retaliation for the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)