Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Arab League Consult on Extraordinary Meeting
Syria discussed the crisis in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the Arab League, the official press in Damascus reported Wednesday, the day before a scheduled Arab League meeting on the crisis.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara held telephone consultations with his counterpart from Saudi Arabia, Saud al-Faisal, and Lebanon's Mahmud Hammud, as well as Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa, on "the escalation of the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people," according to papers here.
"They stressed the need for further consultations between Arab countries to put an end to Israeli state terrorism," they added.
The foreign ministers of the Arab League are due to hold an extraordinary meeting in Cairo on Thursday on the explosive situation in the Palestinian territories.
The meeting could be difficult because of the differences between the moderate camp, represented by Egypt and Jordan, who support Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and Syria which has condemned his appeal for a halt to armed attacks against Israel.
Saudi newspapers have also criticised Arafat's move, while Lebanon is expected to follow Syria.
Mussa said Tuesday the emergency meeting would go ahead as planned despite differences over Arafat's Sunday night speech calling for an end to anti-Israeli attacks.
"The meeting of Arab foreign ministers, called at the request of the Palestinian Authority, will take place on Thursday," the secretary general told journalists.
"The consultations that are underway between Arab countries about this meeting do not mean there are differences over its usefulness."
Mussa was speaking after a senior Arab official in Amman told AFP that differences between League member states over Arafat's speech could scuttle the ministerial meeting.
Arafat's plea, which left his own people generally unimpressed, also failed to foster consensus in the Arab world on the attitude to adopt towards Israel and its chief ally, the United States.
Washington also challenged Arafat Monday to follow his words with "concrete acts" against Palestinian militants, saying there were doubts in the administration of President George W. Bush about Arafat's "ability to govern." (AFP, Damascus)
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