Arab ministers approve summit resolutions, avoid rifts

AFP , Sunday 23 Mar 2014

Summit in Kuwait avoids mentioning the recent recall of ambassadors to Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain

Arab Ministers
Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al Khaild al Sabah hosts the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers in Kuwait City

Arab League foreign ministers said they agreed on the draft resolutions Sunday for a summit in Kuwait this week, despite deep rifts among member states.

"There was no tension whatsoever in the meeting. Host country Kuwait in fact has smoothed relations," Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters at the end of a one-day meeting.

"The subject of the ... withdrawal of ambassadors was never mentioned at all," he said.

"There were no controversial issues or problems, and the atmosphere was very positive," he said, declining to answer if efforts will be made to heal the rifts.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar in protest at Doha's perceived support for the Muslim Brotherhood, branded a terrorist organisation by Cairo and Riyadh.

Rifts between Qatar and the three other Gulf states as well as Egypt were expected to be tackled during the ministerial meeting and also at the two-day summit starting Tuesday.

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, however, said: "Not all issues are discussed in the meeting hall. Some issues are debated on the sidelines behind the scenes."

Arab League assistant secretary general for political affairs Fadhel Jawad has said the Arab leaders will hold a special session during the summit in a bid to sort out their differences.

Morocco's minister of state for foreign affairs, Salahuddin Mezwar, said the ministers discussed efforts to combat international terrorism and ways to limit its impact on Arab countries.

But he said Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood or whether to approve a new inter-Arab counter-terrorism pact were not discussed at the meeting.

Zebari said all draft resolutions were unanimously approved by Arab foreign ministers.

A draft resolution on the Syrian conflict, which entered its fourth year last week, urges the UN Security Council to shoulder its responsibility after the failure of Geneva peace talks between the regime and the opposition.

The leader of Syria's opposition National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, has been invited to address the Arab summit.

But Syria's seat in the Arab League remains vacant although the last annual summit, held in Doha, granted the seat to the opposition.

The Arab League said the opposition still needs to meet some legal procedures to take up the seat.

On the Palestinian issue, the ministers called on Arab states to provide $100 million in financial aid to the Palestinian Authority every month and rejected recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The ministers approved the basic charter of a Bahrain-based Arab human rights tribunal and recommended that the next summit be held in Egypt.

Short link: