Egypt FM expects low-level representatives at Arab summit
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Monday he feared a poor turnout at an Arab summit in Damascus this weekend if a session of the Lebanese parliament to select a president is again postponed. Lebanon's parliament speaker Nabih Berri indicated on Sunday he would delay for the 17th time a session, this time scheduled for Tuesday, to choose a president due to a lack of progress toward ending the political crisis.
A delay would mean that there would be no Lebanese president to attend the March 29-30 Arab summit. "If we go into the summit and Lebanon is not present in its seat or is present with a very low-level representative, and there is no Lebanese president, I think there are Arab powers that perhaps would not be happy with that," Egypt's state-run news agency quoted Aboul Gheit as saying.
Asked what a delay would mean for the summit, Aboul Gheit said: "I think that there would be weak participation, and I fear that the Lebanese issue would negatively reflect on the successes of the summit."
Arab divisions over Lebanon have cast a shadow over the Damascus summit, with several key leaders, mainly the Egyptian president and the Saudi king, expected to stay away, blaming Syria for blocking an election in Lebanon.
Berri said on Sunday "there is nothing stopping a postponement" of Tuesday's session.
"If the Lebanese problem is not resolved as fast as possible, at least the problem of the president, then I fear that Lebanon would ... be put in a thorny position that could last for an indeterminate period," MENA quoted Aboul Gheit as saying.