Arab foreign ministers arrived in Cairo Sunday, March 11, amid intense diplomatic activity ahead of two days of meetings to discuss what position to take on Iraq at the Arab summit planned for March 27 in Amman.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Said Al-Sahhaf was trying to ensure that lifting UN sanctions on his country be discussed at the summit. "The essential thing is to reach agreement on the content of the position to be adopted by the summit on this subject," Sahhaf told reporters after meeting the Cairo-based Arab League chief, Esmat Abdel Meguid.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel Qader Bajammal met his Egyptian counterpart, Amr Mussa, after which he told reporters that "the time is right to discuss the Iraqi question with a new spirit." Iraq has seen an erosion of the sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
International flights to Baghdad have resumed, several countries have reopened embassies and the February 16 US-British air strikes around Baghdad that left three dead and 30 wounded were met with widespread international condemnation.
Syria's Foreign Minister Faruq Al-Shara was the most forthright on the agenda for the summit, saying on arrival in Cairo that lifting the sanctions was a "very important point" and should be discussed at the summit.
The Iraqi foreign minister earlier held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and said he had informed Egypt of Iraq's "point of view on some of the issues" to be discussed at the Amman summit.
Asked how successful he thought the Arab summit could be, Sahhaf said "the agenda will focus on means of giving momentum to the common Arab action." "There are not two camps (in the Arab world), with Iraq on one side and the Gulf countries on the other. This division is only brought up by parties that do not want the good of Arabs", the Iraqi minister added.
Some Gulf countries still see Iraq as a threat, 10 years after the Gulf war, which evicted Iraqi troops from Kuwait. — (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)