Moussa Begins Arab League Job with Urgent Call for Ministerial Meeting
Egypt's former foreign minister, Amr Moussa, started his new job as the secretary general of the 22-member Arab League by calling for an urgent meeting of the council, comprised of member states’ foreign ministers, said reports.
Moussa, 64, took charge of the league on Wednesday, succeeding his compatriot, Esmat Abdel Meguid.
The secretary, who is one of the very few popular politicians in the Arab world, was quoted by Reuters as underlining Cairo's aspirations for regional leadership in a divided Arab world.
Moussa has gained international respect for his supportive role in Middle East peacemaking, as well as popularity at home for his sharp criticism of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, said Reuters.
Egyptian opposition figures told Albawaba.com in Cairo that Moussa had left a vacuum in Egypt’s foreign policy that could not be filled by the newcomer, Ahmad Maher.
The surprise decision to move Moussa to the league prompted some Egyptian commentators to suggest he had been "kicked upstairs" to a toothless institution associated with the pan-Arab era of former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, said the agency.
But reports have said that Moussa is expected to activate the league in the face of Israeli threats to regional peace.
Another thorny issue to handle is the Kuwaiti-Iraqi reconciliation, an observer told Al Jazeera satellite channel.
An Arab summit approved Moussa's nomination, which was uncontested, in March.
Moussa said after talks with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Wednesday that the league needed modernization, reported the agency.
"The Arab League cannot stay as it has been since its inception, while there are new and changing circumstances and things that call on us to be at the ready," he told reporters.
"The Arab League should prepare for dealing with new developments and serious changes," Moussa said, adding that he would look into changing the body's structure and administration.
Arafat used the occasion to repeat his claim that Israel was using US weaponry against a Palestinian uprising.
"This destruction is happening with American weapons ... (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon wants to make the Palestinian people bow down with this destruction," he said.
Formed in 1944, the league has arrears of $100 million in dues from member states, some dating from 1987, said Reuters – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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