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Arab, Libyan Sources: Ahmadinejad and Meshaal Not Invited to Arab Summit in Tripoli - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Whilst a senior Libyan official informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Libyan authorities are ready to hold the first Arab Summit in Libya at the end of this month, and that all logistic arrangements have been completed, well-informed Arab sources stated that Libya still owes the Arab League approximately 20 million dollars in total for not paying its regular share to the annual budget of the Arab League over the past four years.

Asharq Al-Awsat learned that Libyan President Colonel Muammar al Gaddafi will ask the Arab Summit to take the immediate decision to halt any negotiations with Israel in light of the Jewish state continuously belittling Arab and international endeavours to establish peace in the Middle East.

A prominent Libyan official said, “Colonel al Gaddafi would like the Tripoli Summit to revive the famous three No’s of the Khartoum Summit [1969] in view of the fact that the political scene in the region has not changed much since the 1960s.”

Arab sources have stated that the Tripoli Summit is at risk because of current divisions in Arab relations, indicating that without real reconciliation, the Tripoli Summit will be nothing more than a cover up of these disputes rather than a method to solve them.

In a telephone conversation, the Libyan official told Asharq Al-Awsat that Libya will not extend an invite to Iranian President Ahmadinejad or head of the Hamas Politburo Khaled Meshaal to attend the upcoming Arab Summit. The source maintained that the summit will be limited to Arab kings, heads of state and leaders who have already been invited to take part in the summit.

The source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that Tripoli is enthusiastic about the upcoming summit and hopes the outcome will be in the best interest of the joint Arab project and it does not want to ruin the atmosphere surrounding the summit before it is held.

The source added, “Some of our Arab brothers believe that Iran has no right whatsoever to attend the summit on the basis that it is an annual meeting that concerns the presidents and heads of state and leaders of Arab countries only. Even though we believe in the necessity of improving Arab-Iranian relations and engaging in serious political dialogue with non-Arab neighbouring countries, the Iranian President Ahmadinejad will not be invited to attend the summit.” “Nevertheless, we might invite Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to attend the opening session of the summit,” said the source. The source maintained that Tripoli was also planning to extend an invitation to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the President of Malawi in his capacity as the current Chairman of the African Union, the President of the European Commission [Jose Manuel Borroso], and King Juan Carlos of Spain whose country presides over the current rotating EU Presidency.

The Libyan source stated that “there is a classic list of invitees that was always drawn up during all former Arab summits, and so the Libyan authorities will preserve the same tradition.”

There has been increasing speculation over the likelihood of some Arab leaders not attending the Tripoli Summit such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has recently undergone surgery to remove a gall bladder in Germany, and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman against the backdrop of the Libyan-Shia dispute over the fate of Imam Musa al Sadr who disappeared along with his travel companion in 1978.

Last January, President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh threatened to boycott the Tripoli Summit because Libya refused to pass a draft resolution condemning Eritrean policy against Somalia. Djibouti considered this a clear indication of the flaws in inter-Arab relations in general.

However, Arab and Libyan sources said to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Libyan leader, who will be presiding over the Arab Summit for the first time, hopes there will be an effective Arab presence and distinct meetings to crown the successful return of Libya to the international community after decades of hostilities with the West and the US.

Libyan officials said they hoped President Mubarak would recover quickly and be able to attend the Arab Summit in view of the warm bilateral relations between both countries and between Mubarak and Colonel Gaddafi. Cairo has not yet officially announced whether or not President Mubarak, who is currently recuperating in Germany, will attend the Arab Summit or whether he will delegate Egyptian Prime Minister Dr. Ahmad Nazif or Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Moufid Shehab to head Egypt’s delegation in the event of President Mubarak’s absence.

An Egyptian official said, “It is still too early to decide. The entire matter depends on the President’s health after surgery. He might not be able to attend simply because the summit requires physical effort and strength owing to the series of meetings held on the sidelines.”

The Egyptian President did not attend the last two Arab summits held in Syria and Qatar respectively. Dr. Moufid Shehab headed the Egyptian delegation in both of these summits and he is being nominated by Egyptian political circles to succeed incumbent Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa whose second term will come to an end early next year.

With respect to the Lebanese President, an official in the Libyan government said that Libya would welcome him if he decided to take part in the summit. However, the Libyan official indicated that the Lebanese state should try and keep its relations with Libya away from “political and media wrangling” carried out by some Shia circles in Lebanon.

The official added, “We understand that the decision lies with the President of Lebanon himself. If he decides to attend, that would be good. The entire matter concerns the Lebanese government. We are not involved in any rivalry with any Lebanese party.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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