Arab summit 'a major success', says Abdullah

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the Arab League summit was a success that needed to be sustained.

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DOHA // Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the Arab League summit, which concluded on Monday night, was a success that needed to be sustained. A declaration issued by the league reiterated its support for the Palestinian struggle against Israel. It also rejected an International Criminal Court warrant for the arrest of the Sudanese president, Omar al Bashir. And the league affirmed its support of the UAE's claim to the Arabian Gulf islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs, which were occupied by Iran in 1971.

"This summit achieved a major success, but it needs a follow-up," Sheikh Abdullah said, noting that its closing declaration reflected in large part discussions by officials in the days preceding the meeting. "We shouldn't forget also about a very important summit in Riyadh which furthered the success of this summit," he said, referring to a meeting last month of the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

The Doha summit was a chance to ease long-running tension between Libya and Saudi Arabia. And the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad, reconciled differences that began after the assassination of the Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al Hariri in 2004. But Sheikh Abdullah and a number of Arab officials made it clear that Arab reconciliation must go further. Although 17 heads of state attended the one-day summit, the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was absent. "I don't imagine that our differences with Egypt are major," said Sheikh Hamad bin Jasem Al Thani, Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister.

Amr Musa, the Arab League's secretary general, said in a joint press conference with Sheikh Hamad that Arab relations were "like a plant, it needs watering and nourishment with meetings and economic ties". Sheikh Abdullah yesterday headed a UAE delegation at the inauguration of the second Summit of the Arab - South American Countries, also being held in Doha. According to the state news agency, WAM, it will see 34 presidents and officials discuss issues such as nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.