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Maktoum walks out of Beirut summit

posted on 28/03/2002: 884 views

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum left the Arab summit in Beirut after the first day, Wednesday 27 March. Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah will lead the UAE delegation for the remainder of the summit. This was due to the summit host (Lebanon) refusing to allow Yasser Arafat's speech to be telecast to the summit, and the debate consequently disintegrated.

Information and Culture Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the decision was taken as it became clear that the summit was not meeting the expectations and aspirations of the Arab people.

Sheikh Abdullah added that ‘the UAE still gives categorical and unqualified support to the Middle East peace initiative put forward by Saudi Arabia. This initiative provides the best framework within which the Arab people can be delivered from the current conflict'.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on 27 March proposed that the Arab world should offer Israel ‘normal relations' and security in exchange for full withdrawal from Arab lands held since 1967 and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

As Prince Abdullah was presenting his peace plan to the summit, the Lebanese government's refusal to allow Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (prevented by the Israelis from attending the summit) to address the forum live by satellite from the West Bank resulted in the Palestinian delegation walked out of the session in fury.

Arafat's speech was carried by Arabic TV station Al Jazeera. In his speech Arafat ‘welcomed the Saudi initiative and urged Arab leaders to adopt it'.


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