Arab ministers agree on initiative to solve Lebanon conflict
( dpa )- Ahead of their March 29 summit in Syria, Arab League ministers on Thursday confirmed their agreement on an initiative aimed at resolving the political crisis in Lebanon.
"The Arab ministers confirmed the Arab initiative and we will work on making it succeed," Arab League head Amr Mussa said in Damascus after meeting with the group's foreign ministers.
Mussa stressed that the ongoing crises in Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan would be among the summit's key issues.
Lebanon, whose political system remains deadlocked as rivalling pro- and anti-Syrian camps struggle over the presidency, is not participating in the summit. The country has been without a president since pro-Syrian incumbent Emile Lahoud stepped down in November.
Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the crisis in Lebanon must be solved by the factions in the country, adding that Syria's efforts would never be sufficient in resolving the political stand-off. He added that Saudi Arabia had greater influence over Lebanon's ruling majority than Syria.
The Cairo-based Arab League called for an Arab initiative on Lebanon in February, supporting the election of army commander General Michel Suleiman, a compromise candidate
The plan, pushed by Mussa on several missions to Beirut, calls for the formation of a national unity government where no party enjoys veto powers as well as the adoption of new electoral laws.
A member of the delegation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meanwhile stressed that Abbas would not reconcile with Hamas unless it gave up its sole control of Gaza.
Abbas had no intention meeting with Hamas officials during the summit, Nimr Hammad said, rejecting reports of a meeting between Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.
In a meeting with Jordan;s King Abdullah II, Abbas said he was opposed to the planned withdrawal of the pan-Arab peace plan with Israel, which calls for Israel's recognition by all Arab states if it pulled out from all Arab lands occupied in the 1967 Six-day war
"Our attitude has always been that this plan should remain as it is and that we should defend it and fight for it as it is an expensive initiative and the other side ( Israel) should accept it," he told reporters after the meeting.
The Arab world is divided over the summit's impact, as Saudia Arabia and Egypt said they would be represented only by low-level delegations.