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Monday, August 07, 2006

Syrian foreign minister storms out of Lebanon summit

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Syrian foreign minister Walid Moallem stormed out of the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting in Beirut today. It's not clear why.

Syria's foreign minister, Walid Moallem, abruptly walked out of the meeting Monday. While leaving, he refused to answer reporters' questions.

The reason for his departure was not immediately clear.

On Sunday, Moallem told reporters that "Syria is ready for the possibility of a regional war" if Israel attacks his country.


Moallem said Monday that the foreign ministers would discuss the possibility of holding an emergency summit on Lebanon later this week.

Local media outlets had quoted Saudi sources as saying Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was expected to make the call for a summit during Monday's ministerial meeting in Beirut.

Lebanon's As-Safir newspaper also said contacts were under way among Arab states to hold the summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, later this week.

Moallem, speaking to reporters after meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Fawzi Salloukh early Monday, said Syria's position on holding an emergency summit meeting depended on the results of the foreign ministers' meeting.

"We support, in principle, any Arab meeting that aims at supporting Lebanon's steadfastness and its heroic national resistance," he said. Moallem added, however, that Syria wants "practical measures" from Arab heads of state.

"We want these measures to be practical. If this will be on the agenda of the emergency summit, then it is most welcome," he said. He did not elaborate on the nature of such measures.

Reporters asked Moallem to explain why Venezuela had recalled its ambassador to Israel, while the two Arab states with peace treaties with Israel - Jordan and Egypt - have refused to do that.

"I don't explain it but I say that we are grateful to the president of Venezuela for this step," Moallem said.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Thursday he was recalling his envoy to Israel to express his indignation at what he called the "genocide" Israel was committing in Lebanon.


[Arab League Secretary General Amr] Moussa, following a meeting with President Emile Lahoud Monday, said the ministers would also consider whether those Arab countries with ambassadors in Israel should have them recalled. "This has become a widespread demand," he said.
Remember when US Secretary of State Madeline Albright chased Yasser Arafat in her high-heeled shoes after he stormed out of a meeting in Paris?


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