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Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Arab ministers unsure about talks
Israeli tank during Bethlehem incursion
Arabs ministers say Israeli operations make talks difficult
Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut have failed to agree on whether to take part in a Middle East peace conference.

Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa
Moussa: Road map for peace initiative "almost agreed on"
The Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said it would be difficult to take part in the conference as long as what he described as Israeli "occupation, murder and sabotage" continued in the Palestinian territories.

The conference was proposed by the US, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia early in May, nearly a month after an Arab summit adopted a Saudi peace plan for the region.

The Saudi plan, proposed by Crown Prince Abdullah, offers Israel diplomatic and commercial relations with the Arab world in exchange for:

  • Full withdrawal from territory captured by Israel in 1967
  • The establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital
  • A just settlement for Palestinian refugees.

In April, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, proposed that the US head a regional conference to find peace for the Middle East.

But, analysts say, Mr Sharon himself has repeatedly put up obstacles to such an initiative by insisting that the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, should not attend.

The Palestinian Authority has called for the Saudi plan to be adopted by the United Nations Security Council, and for it to become an international initiative.

Mr Moussa said on Saturday that Arab ministers had almost agreed on a road map to advance the Saudi initiative, but did not give further details.

See also:

27 Feb 02 | Middle East
What is in the Saudi peace initiative?
26 Mar 02 | Middle East
Shy kingdom takes centre stage
02 May 02 | Middle East
Building barriers not bridges
21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Quick guide: Arab League
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