Mubarak, Assad and Saudi king may hold rare 3-way summit
Al-Quds al-Arabi reports leaders of Saudi Arabia, Syria due in Sharm el-Sheikh Thursday to visit Egyptian president, who is recovering from surgery. Western diplomats say talks to focus on Iran and Israeli threat to 'send Syria back to Stone Age'
Western diplomats in Riyadh said intense negotiations are being conducted between Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria to hold a three-way meeting between the countries' leaders, the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported Wednesday.
According to the sources, Saudi King Abdullah is due in Sharm el Sheikh on Thursday to visit Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is recovering from gall bladder removal surgery. The diplomats said Syria's Bashar Assad is also expected in Sharm for the same purpose.
UPI quoted a Saudi source as saying that the three leaders are expected to discuss the Iranian nuclear program, post-elections Iraq and the efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah. The western diplomats said Assad may discuss Israel's threat to "send Syria back to the Stone Age" and the Arab nations' willingness to stand by Damascus.
On Monday the United States summoned the senior Syrian diplomat in Washington, Zouheir Jabbour, to address "provocative behavior" regarding the potential transfer of Scud missiles to Hezbollah that it said could be a threat to both Lebanon and Israel.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms, and especially ballistic missile systems such as the SCUD, from Syria to Hezbollah," a statement issued by State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said.
"The transfer of these arms can only have a destabilizing effect on the region, and would pose an immediate threat to both the security of Israel and the sovereignty of Lebanon," it said.
The Western diplomats said that in light of the reports on the transfer of arms to Hezbollah, Damascus is growing increasingly concerned over the possibility of a military confrontation with Israel.
According to the al-Quds al-Arabi report, the meeting may improve relations between Egypt and Syria, which have been strained since the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
However, Syrian sources told the newspaper that any reconciliation with Cairo or Riyadh would not come at the expense of Damascus' ties with Iran.
Mubarak met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday. Last week the Egyptian president convened his cabinet for the first time since his return from Germany, where he underwent the operation.
Reuters contributed to the report