Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has dispatched his Deputy Foreign Minister Amran Abu Kara’a to Cairo in order to deliver a new invitation to Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to attend the Arab League Summit in Libya, Asharq Al-Awsat has learnt.
This invitation was delivered to the Lebanese Arab League representative in the presence of Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa. The Arab League Summit is scheduled to take place in the Libyan city of Sirte on Saturday and Sunday 27 – 28 March.
Well informed Arab and Libyan sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu Kara’a yesterday paid an unannounced visit to Cairo which lasted for a number of hours during which he met with Amr Musa and delivered the Lebanese invitation before returning to Tripoli.
Amr Musa confirmed the veracity of this information telling Asharq Al-Awsat “I did indeed meet with a Libyan government official and I invited Lebanon’s representative to the Arab League [to attend] and he officially received this invitation in my presence at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.”
He added “Therefore the protocol aspect of this has been resolved and the invitation has been sent and received, and we wait – God willing – for Lebanese participation at the summit in view of the importance of every state participating [in the summit], especially at this critical stage.”
Amr Musa refused to comment on the role that he played with regards to persuading Libya to issue a second invitation to Lebanon to attend the Arab League summit after the first invitation was rejected “for administrative reasons.” Musa told Asharq Al-Awsat “I did my duty; it is in everybody’s interests to ensure an excellent Arab presence at the summit.”
Lebanon has yet to respond to this second invitation from Libya. Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday attempted to contact Khalid Ziadeh, Lebanese Ambassador to Egypt who is also the Lebanese representative to the Arab League, however calls were not returned at the time of going to press.
During a meeting with International Criminal Court [ICC] Registrar Silvana Arbia in Cairo on Saturday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa commenting on Lebanon’s participation at the Libyan summit said “Lebanon will participate in the summit, and this is what we expect, and we will succeed in our efforts to achieve this.”
Arab sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi responded to the mediation efforts and advice of Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa with regards to sending a second invitation to Lebanon in a way that they would consider acceptable in order to ensure Lebanese participation at the summit at the highest level.
The sources also said that Amr Musa had sent a message to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, calling for Libya to reconsider the way that Lebanon was invited to attend the summit.
The Arab sources, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, also revealed that Amr Musa – who visited Beirut last week – stressed that the absence or exclusion of Lebanon from the summit is not in anybody’s interests, and that it is important to give Lebanon the opportunity to attend the summit in a dignified and acceptable manner, in the same manner as other members of the Arab League.
A senior Libyan official told Asharq Al-Awsat that Colonel Gaddafi is keen that all members of the Arab League attend the Arab League summit in Sirte. The Libyan official said that Colonel Gaddafi did not have any problem whatsoever with the State of Lebanon, with the exception to the tendency of some Shiite leaders launching media campaigns criticizing Libya against the backdrop of the controversial disappearance of Lebanese Shiite Cleric Musa al-Sadr from Libya in 1978.
The source added “The Colonel does not have a problem with the Maronite [Christians] or the Sunnis in Lebanon, but rather with some Shiite leaders, and I believe he does not want to give them any excuse not to attend the summit. If the way the invitation was extended last time was not acceptable, we have rectified the situation.”
The Libyan official told Asharq Al-Awsat that he expected Lebanon to attend the Arab Summit at the highest level, and that he expected “either Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to participate [in the summit] or Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.” The official added “this is the level [of attendance] that we expect and hope for.”
He also revealed that senior Lebanese officials had indicated that Lebanon would reverse their decision to boycott the summit if Libya extended another invitation to Beirut in a manner it deemed acceptable.
The Shiite community in Lebanon holds Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi responsible for the disappearance of Shiite cleric Musa Sadr, who was last seen in Libya on 31 August 1978.