Arab League summit comes to Baghdad

Ahram Online, Sunday 25 Mar 2012

After years of lobbying for the Arab League summit to be held in Baghdad, in order to bolster its credibility, Iraq's government will finally play host to the summit starting Tuesday

Nabil El-Arabi
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi (AFP/File photo)

With Arab League secretary general Nabil El-Arabi scheduled to arrive in Baghdad Monday with a high-profile delegation to attend the Arab summit, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Malaki has slammed "balky stances" aimed at "muddling" and suggesting "Iraq's inability to host the summit."

"The proceedings of the summit are scheduled to begin Tuesday ... Its first session will include ministers of finance and economy presided by the Iraqi trade minister. On the second day, Arab foreign ministers are scheduled to hold a meeting presided over by the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari. Then the final session will be held on the last day that will include Arab leaders to endorse the final statement," Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abbawi told pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper.

The Arab League Economic and Social Council ended its meetings in Cairo under the chairmanship of Iraq. The league's permanent delegates have accomplished the final form of the summit's agenda, in addition to the proposed formula of the "Declaration of Baghdad."

‘The summit's agenda includes 10 points, most notably developments in the situation in Syria, the Palestinian cause and Arab-Israeli conflict, combating terror, the situation in Yemen, and establishing a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction," the deputy decretary-general of the Arab League said.

A source in the Iraqi government told Al-Hayat newspaper that, "President Jalal Talabani will chair the summit, while the Iraqi delegation will be headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and that about 70 Arab and foreign high profile figures will attend the inauguration of the summit."

The source confirmed that Iraq, as chair of the summit, will present a proposal to resolve the Syrian crisis, based on the Arab consensus and decisions of the Arab League on Syria, mainly focusing on preventing the outbreak of civil war in the country. The source ruled out a decision by the Arab League on arming the Syrian opposition or asking President Bashar Al-Assad to step down.

As well as criticising suggestions that Iraq is not ready to host the Arab League summit, Maliki called on tribes in Iraq "to back the security apparatus and maintain good ties between all classes of society, because this stage is crucial and will be part of the stages of building Iraq."

The 23rd Arab League Summit will be the third held in Baghdad and the first since 1990, before the start of the first Gulf War. Iraqi sources say that Iraq spent more than $1 billion in 2011 and 2012 to prepare for the summit.

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