The Arab League has called for an emergency Arab summit conference to settle differences among its 22 member States over a solution to the Middle East problem.
The Arab League has called for an emergency Arab summit conference to settle differences among its 22 member States over a solution to the Middle East problem. A statement issued after a meeting of the League's Council of Foreign Ministers and other representatives on Tuesday (28 March) said it had reviewed with 'utmost concern the current Middle East development, and Israeli aggression in southern Lebanon'. The statement said the Council believed that Israeli's insistence on pursuing 'its aggressive and expansionist policy, and denying Palestinian nationalist rights, including their right to self-determination, would obstruct the achievement of a just peace in the area'.
SYNOPSIS: The Arab League had decided to meet in Cairo to try to mend the rift that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's peace initiatives had caused. This is Sudanese vice president, Rachid El Taher, arriving for the opening session on Monday (27 March). But four hard-line Arab countries -- Syria, Algeria, Iraq and South Yemen -- boycotted the meeting.
Ambassador Sharida El Kaaby of Qatar turned up for this regular bi-annual meeting, as did Moroccan Foreign Minister Omar Boucetta, one of ten foreign ministers due to be present.
A major purpose of the meeting was to focus on ways to restoring and strengthening Arab solidarity. Other topics on the agenda included the security of the Red Sea, and an evaluation of Arab-American relations, especially United States policies in the Middle East.
Two key figures: on the left is the League's secretary-general, Mr. Mahmoud Riad, with Saudi Arabia's delegate Prince Saud al-Faisal, who had acted for King Khaled in efforts to solve the Lebanese civil war.
The rift in the League is shown by the empty seats for the delegates from South Yemen and the Libyan Jamahariyah. The League wants to hold the Arab summit as soon as possible to plan joint Arab strategy on military, political and economical issues. It has formed a committee under Sudanese President Jaafar Nimieri to resolve the differences that have split the Arab world. The Council has agreed to send a message to the absent hard-line countries. While no details were given, observers believed it called on them to support the call for solidarity.