11 heads of state decided not to attend an Arab League summit that started Tuesday. The summit was expected to discuss key issues facing the region such as Iraq and the Hamas-led government in Palestine.
According to the AP, a main reason for no-shows was the venue, Sudan. Some of the absent leaders like the Egyptian president cited security concerns, others have political differences with the Sudanese government.
In addition, Washington asked some close Arab leaders to stay away from the event to prevent a show of support for the Sudanese government, which is under international pressure to allow U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur.
Thus, the annual meeting was shortened to one day instead of two, Arab diplomats in Khartoum said.
In the formal opening session, the Arab leaders asked the international community to help revive Middle East peace talks and respect the result of Palestinian elections won by Hamas earlier this year.
"We call on the international community to respect the will of the Palestinian people and fulfil its responsibility to support the Palestinian government which came about through free and fair elections," said Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
"I call on the ... Quartet (of international Mideast mediators) to double its efforts so that Israel responds to repeated Arab calls for peace, especially the Beirut resolutions," he added.
In a speech at the summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked for more financial aid "to reinforce the steadfastness of our people".