Qatar says has quorum for Gaza summit, some resist

Egyptian FM Gheit said the countries who did not agree were Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain and Kuwait.

Qatar says has quorum for Gaza summit, some resist

Qatar said on Wednesday it had a quorum for an emergency Arab summit on the Israeli offensive in Gaza this week, despite resistance from other Arab countries in a tug-of-war splitting the Arab world into two camps.

Qatar said 15 Arab countries had signed on to the meeting, but Hesham Youssef, aide to Arab League chief Amr Moussa, told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television only 14 countries had agreed to the summit, one short of the quorum.

Saudi Arabia, which recently patched up once-tense relations with neighbour Qatar, also called a separate emergency meeting of Gulf Arab countries which appeared to upstage Qatar's attempt.

With the death toll in Gaza edging towards 1,000, the summit plans have underscored deep divisions in the Arab world and risk further undermining an Arab League already considered by many ordinary Arabs to be a toothless body.

Qatar had asked the 22-member Arab League in Cairo to convene an emergency Arab Summit on Gaza in its capital Doha on Friday.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, both opposed to the Hamas group, have said they would attend an Arab Economic Summit in Kuwait and would discuss the matter there next week, rather than meeting in Doha.

Qatar's official news agency quoted Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani as saying the Gulf Arab gas exporter had received the names of the Iraqi delegation, making up the 15 League members needed for an official summit to be held, and was waiting for Baghdad to inform the Arab League in writing.

Moussa arrived in Kuwait on Wednesday and told reporters it would become clear within hours if the summit would take place.

The United Arab Emirates has also said it would attend.

Reluctant Arab states

"There is an Arab effort that we hope will lead to the important thing, which is reaching a solution to the situation in the Gaza Strip," Qatar's news agency quoted Sheikh Hamad as saying, adding Qatar had also received positive signals from some countries awaiting a quorum before making a decision.

Egypt, the only Arab state bordering Gaza, has also faced Muslim protests for cooperating in the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Egypt says it will not open the Gaza-Egypt border for normal traffic without the presence of the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Kuwait summit would merge discussion of the Gaza conflict with the previously scheduled economic meeting.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a Middle East tour aimed at securing a ceasefire in Gaza, is due to address the summit in Kuwait on Monday.

Sheikh Hamad said his country would attend the Kuwaiti summit at the highest level, regardless of whether a special meeting on Gaza is held in Doha or not.

Officials in Qatar said preparations for the Doha meeting were under way but there were still chances that it would not go ahead, with some officials insisting that key Arab states had refused to go. If it takes place without a quorum, the Arab League would not consider the meeting or its resolutions valid.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told a news conference the countries who did not agree were Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain and Kuwait.


Reuters

Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2009, 12:34
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