Arab meet marked by no-shows in snub to Syria

'United States did their best to prevent the summit but they failed, Their aim is to divide the Arab world.' Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told.

Arab meet marked by no-shows in snub to Syria

Syria on Saturday plays host to the Arab summit, boycotted this year by half of the Arab world's leaders who blame Damascus for the political crisis in Lebanon.

The leaders of US allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan will not be attending, an absence touted by Syria as a triumph over American influence.

'They (the United States) did their best to prevent the summit but they failed,' Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told reporters on the eve of the two-day gathering. 'Their aim is to divide the Arab world.'

'Tomorrow there will be a very successful summit,' he added.

U.S. URGED ARAB ALLIES TO THINK TWICE

Washington last week urged its Arab allies in the region to think twice before attending the summit, accusing Syria of blocking the election of a new president in Lebanon.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad is due to host the leaders of Algeria, the Comoros, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates-only half of the 22-member league's heads of state.

Egypt is sending a junior minister while powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Jordan will be represented by their ambassadors to the Arab League. Lebanon has boycotted the summit altogether.

'THERE WILL BE NO TRACE OF U.S.'

'There will be no trace of the United States on the summit's work or agenda,' Muallem told his counterparts on Thursday ahead of the summit.

Lebanon has been without a president since the end of November and has been mired in political crisis for more than a year because of feuding between the Western-backed parliamentary majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition, backed by Syria and Iran.

In a televised address on Friday ahead of the summit, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said his government had decided to boycott the meeting because of Syrian meddling in his country's affairs.

Agencies
Last Mod: 29 Mart 2008, 10:22
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