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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Arab League seeks Iraq solution
Naji Sabri with Sudanese and Saudi counterparts Mustafa Ismail (left) and Prince Saud al-Faisal
Naji Sabri (centre) has tried to unite Arab opinion
The foreign ministers of Arab League member nations have begun the second of two days of meetings in Cairo, with possible US military action against Iraq topping the agenda.

The ministers are expected to sign a final statement rejecting US threats against Baghdad.

However, they will also urge Iraq to resume its dialogue with the United Nations so that weapons inspectors can return.

Iraq was formally on the agenda for the first time on Thursday, but the subject had also dominated the first day's meeting.

Bush 'lies'

The meeting had opened on Wednesday with a call from its Secretary-General, Amr Moussa, for rapid action to avert an American military strike aimed at toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

League Secretary General Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa: Rapid action needed to avert US strikes on Iraq

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri had used the first day to warn that US President George W Bush would present ''lies'' to win approval from the US Congress and United Nations for military action.

''Mr Bush cannot provide to his people one [piece of] evidence that Iraq poses a threat to US interests," Mr Sabri said after Wednesday's meeting.

He said Iraq had received assurances from UN permanent Security Council members Russia and China, that they would ''reject aggression against Iraq''.

The BBC's Middle East correspondent, Paul Wood, says Mr Sabri was trying to portray an attack on Iraq as an attack on the whole Arab world.


Mr Bush cannot provide to his people one (piece of) evidence that Iraq poses a threat to US interests

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri

Amr Moussa said a peaceful solution would require the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq.

Iraqi officials have suggested that the resumption of inspections is a possibility, but on Wednesday Mr Bush again accused Iraq of delaying tactics.

Our correspondent says it is far from certain whether even Iraq's allies in the Arab world can kick-start UN weapons inspections, and even if they do the question remains whether it will be enough for the Americans.


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05 Sep 02 | Americas
04 Sep 02 | Middle East
21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
04 Jan 02 | Country profiles
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