Libya, Tunisia Call for Palestinian Rights
Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on Wednesday called for a "fair, all-encompassing and lasting" peace for the Middle East, and backed Palestinian ambitions of statehood.
In an evening meeting, the two leaders "reaffirmed the necessity of a fair, all-encompassing and lasting peace in the Middle East, as well as guarantees for the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people," a spokesman for Ben Ali said.
They also called for "the return of occupied territory to Syria and Lebanon," the spokesman added.
Kadhafi arrived in Tunis Wednesday for three days of talks focused on reviving the regional Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).
The UMA, grouping Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, was created in 1989, but has been dormant since 1995 mainly because of disagreement between Algeria and Morocco over the Western Sahara issue.
Algeria backs the separatist Polisario movement in the Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco in 1975.
The union was further strained last November when Mauritania established full diplomatic links with Israel, a move criticized by other UMA members.
In recent months however, there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity in a bid to resurrect the grouping and organize a Magreb summit by the end of the year.
Ben Ali's spokesman said the issue of the UMA was raised in the opening talks, and emphasized the "necessity to deploy every effort to reactivate the structure and the institutions of the Arab Maghreb Union."
He said the talks also covered last month's Organization of African Unity summit, and ways of boosting bilateral cooperation.
Officials said Tunisia and Libya would also discuss plans to increase their bilateral trade from 700 million dollars (760 million euros) to one billion dollars annually - TUNIS (AFP)
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