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Arab Summit Ends in Syria Without Breakthroughs on Key Disputes

  • VOA News

The Arab League summit in Syria's capital, Damascus, has ended without any breakthroughs on issues that have sharply divided the Arab world.

Lebanon's pro-western government boycotted the summit, accusing host Syria of blocking the election of a new Lebanese president -- a charge Damascus denies.

In solidarity with Lebanon, other U.S. allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan only sent low-level representatives to the summit.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad acknowledged differences among Arab League members but said the delegations managed to hold respectful and frank discussions.

The summit's final declaration expressed support for Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa's mediation efforts in Lebanon. But, it offered no new ideas to resolve the Lebanese political crisis.

Iraqi leaders refused to endorse the declaration because it did not explicitly support Iraq's government or condemn terrorism in the country.

The declaration called on the Iraqi government to work toward national reconciliation and to speed up the departure of foreign troops.

Summit delegates renewed their support for an Arab peace initiative aimed at ending the Israeli-Arab conflict. But, they also said the offer will not remain on the table indefinitely and warned they may review their strategies toward Israel depending on its response.

The initiative, first proposed in 2002, offers Israel normal relations with all Arab states in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to its borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
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