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News number: 8710271171

21:03 | 2009-01-16

Foriegn Policy

نسخه چاپي ارسال به دوستان

Ahmadinejad Joins Arab Leaders for Gaza Talks

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joined Arab leaders at an emergency meeting on the Gaza crisis in Qatar on Friday.

Iran has several times called for a unified, strong stance by Muslim states against the Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip, which has so far claimed over 1100 lives, many of whom are women and children.

Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the region's political heavyweights, had rejected calls from Qatar to hold an emergency Arab League summit. But leaders from Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, as well as Khaled Meshaal, Hamas's Damascus-based leader, joined others in attending the meeting in Doha.

Meshaal said the Islamist group would not accept Israeli demands for a ceasefire, insisting that Gaza's borders had to be reopened before Hamas stopped firing rockets into southern Israel.

Both he and Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, also called on Arab states to cut all ties with Israeli as the meeting adopted a strong tone.

On Thursday, the leaders of the six-nation Persian Gulf Cooperation Council - which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar - met in Riyadh and deferred holding the Arab League summit. Instead, they agreed that the Gaza crisis would be discussed at a meeting in Kuwait later this month.

Observers saw Thursday's meeting as an attempt by Saudi Arabia to pre-empt Qatar's efforts to hold its summit.

"This is not just about the venue of the summit, but rather, the outcome," Prince Saud al-Faesal, the Saudi foreign minister, said after the Riyadh meeting.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Qatar's ruler, had called for a summit in Doha to "freeze the Arab peace initiative and suspend all forms of normalization with Israel, including the reconsideration of diplomatic ties."

The Arab peace initiative is a Saudi proposal presented during 2002 under which the Arab states offered full diplomatic ties with Israel in exchange for withdrawal to Israel's 1967 borders.

Qatar is the only Persian Gulf Arab state to have formal commercial ties with Israel and an Israeli representative office in Doha, but also hosts Hamas leaders.

Qatar, which pursues what is regarded as a maverick foreign policy had been using Al-Jazeera TV to lambast opponents of the gathering by suggesting that they are failing the Palestinians.

Sheikh Hamad said earlier this week that Qatar was not trying to sabotage efforts to secure a truce.

"We think that it is our duty to take a unified position and we can take effective measures," he said.

The Israeli attacks on Gaza has sparked a wave of anger across the Muslim world and many of the tens of thousands of demonstrators that have taken to the streets have lambasted Arab leaders for failing to take a stronger stance against the Zionist regime.

Arab foreign ministers were also scheduled to meet in Kuwait on Friday.