A proposal presented by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa to start an Arab-Iranian dialogue was met with resistance on the part of a "number of prominent Arab states" including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported Sunday.
According to the report, harsh criticism was leveled at Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who chose to hold a visit in Tehran on Saturday, the same day the 22nd Arab summit opened in Libya. Representing him in Libya was Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
The paper reported that Moussa had previously raised the idea in Damascus a year ago.
The report is based on high-level diplomatic sources who noted that Arab leaders and delegation heads were appalled by Talalbani's visit in Iran and regarded it as a display of support of Tehran. Moussa further proposed to create a region for Arab countries' neighbors to include Turkey and African states, and suggested to start an Arab-Iranian dialogue.
According to the diplomatic sources, prominent Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia rejected Moussa's idea of negotiating with Iran. "What would we negotiate with Iran? Would we discuss the request to stop interfering in Lebanon, Iraq and Gaza, something which need not have happened in the first place?" they wondered.
The leaders further noted that "the dialogue would grant Iran the status it seeks" and said that bilateral talks between Iran and several Arab countries were sufficient. "However, turning this dialogue to matters which cannot be discussed or accepted is outright wrong and therefore Secretary-General Moussa's proposal is rejected."
Arab leaders convene in Sirte (Photo: AP)
Abbas insulted by Gaddafi
Another issue raised during the summit were the tense relations between Libya and the Palestinian Authority. Al-Hayat reported that several Arab leaders managed to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stay in Libya after he expressed a wish to leave the summit and failed to attend the closed session.
A Palestinian source told the paper that during a meeting between Gaddafi and the Palestinian president held Saturday at the former's request, the two discussed bilateral relations with the Libyan leader who tried to appease angry Abbas.
The Palestinian president finally came around and decided to remain for the remaining sessions.
The summit is attended by only 13 out of 22 leaders of the Arab League's member states.