Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Lebanon is yet to receive an official invite to the Arab Summit that will be held in Libya at the end of this month. It has been confirmed that Lebanese President Michel Sleiman will not attend the summit. The Lebanese President previously told Asharq Al-Awsat that this subject is “problematic” and denied the option of taking part.
This was also confirmed yesterday by a ministerial source in Lebanon who said that the Lebanese President will not take part in the Arab Summit scheduled to take place in Libya against the backdrop of the suspicions surrounding Libya with regards to the disappearance of Imam Musa Sadr.
A senior Lebanese source responded to comments published in Asharq Al-Awsat by a Libyan source who stated that Libyan leader Colonel Muaamar Gaddafi would not extend an invite to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take part in the summit “so as not to waste it.” The Lebanese source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaddafi is trying to “put on an Arab exterior.”
The official who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity added that these comments are “a shame to the Arabs and Muslims and the Islamic Republic…Gaddafi is trying to portray false heroism when he knows that even if he sent dozens of invites to President Ahmadinejad he would not visit Libya as long as the truth is not revealed about the case of Imam Musa Sadr, the founder of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, and his two companions, who went missing on an official visit to Libya in 1978.”
Arab diplomatic sources in Beirut told Asharq Al-Awsat that Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa will visit Beirut on March 18 to discuss Lebanese representation at the Arab Summit with political leaders. The sources also stated that Moussa informed Lebanese leaders who contacted him that he had explained to Libyan officials that they are committing “a big mistake” if they fail to invite Lebanon to the summit in the customary timely manner and in accordance with the methods of the Arab League.
Amr Moussa told the Lebanese, “If Lebanon does not take part [in the Arab Summit] this will harm it and the Arab League states,” and considered the dispute “not enough of a justification not to attend,” and he gave many examples in this context.
On his part, a ministerial Lebanese source stated Friday that the president of the republic [of Lebanon] will not take part in the Arab Summit in Libya and confirmed that Sleiman “will not take part in the summit on the basis that some Lebanese [politicians] requested this from him, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.”
The source further explained that “the Lebanese government is yet to receive an official invite to take part in the summit,” indicating that Gaddafi sent delegates to a number of Arab countries with invites to the summit. The source concluded by indicating that the “level of Lebanese representation will be decided taking into consideration the Libyan invite.”
Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the maximum level of representation that Lebanon can provide at this summit is a delegation headed by the Acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri. The sources explained that Mitri’s participation is not definite and is pending an “internal agreement.” The sources indicated that Shia figure Nabih Berri is rejecting any kind of participation and might accept participation at the level of the “charge d’affaires at the Lebanese embassy” in West Tripoli.