Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ordered Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to quit an Arab summit in protest at a meeting earlier this week between Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and Iraqi opposition figures, a top Arab diplomat told AFP on Thursday. But Zebari, who is in the Libyan Mediterranean city of Sirte to attend a meeting of Arab foreign ministers and to represent Iraq at a summit on Saturday and Sunday, told AFP he had not decided on his next move.
According to the diplomat, Maliki ordered Zebari to pack up and go home as the foreign ministers started meetings to prepare for the weekend summit. "Maliki instructed Zebari to leave by the end of the day Thursday in protest at a meeting granted by Kadhafi to a delegation of Iraqi opposition figures," the diplomat said.
He ordered that the Iraqi delegation to the Arab summit be scaled back, leaving behind in Sirte Iraq's permanent representative to the Arab League.
Arab League chief Amr Mussa met privately with Zebari over breakfast on Thursday to try to contain the diplomatic spat between Libya and Iraq, and convince the Iraqi foreign minister to remain for the summit. Several Arab foreign ministers also tried to persuade Iraq's top diplomat to stay.
Libya's official JANA news agency said that Kadhafi received a high-ranking delegation of Iraqi opposition leaders on Sunday, including former members of the outlawed Baath party of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein.