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Arab States Lower Representation at Beirut Summit after Libya Boycott

Arab States Lower Representation at Beirut Summit after Libya Boycott

Friday, 18 January, 2019 - 07:45
Aoun meets Aboul Gheit on Thursday/NNA
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
Many heads of state have informed Lebanon that they would not attend the Arab economic summit in Beirut despite earlier confirming their presence. Their decision stems from some Lebanese parties objecting to invite Libya that has decided to boycott the event.

Only Mauritania and Somalia’s presidents are attending the two-day summit that kicks off on Saturday, while the rest of the 18 Arab states are sending delegations at ministerial levels.

The first Arab Summit for Economic and Social Development was held in Kuwait in 2009. It was followed by Sharm El Sheikh in 2011 and Riyadh in 2013.

Speaking after his meeting with President Michel Aoun on Thursday, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit praised Lebanon’s efforts in organizing the event.

"I think this summit is successful... Let's wait and see how the representation of Arab countries will be," he said.

Despite the absence of Syria, which Aboul Gheit said did not receive the needed Arab consent for its return to the Arab League, caretaker Lebanese Economy Minister Raed Khoury told Asharq Al-Awsat that Damascus will be present at the summit through Aoun’s proposal for a financial mechanism on the reconstruction of the war-torn country, in addition to the issue of refugees.

Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali said he rejected the invitation to the summit due to the "inappropriate approach" of the Arab League towards Syria.

As part of "protocol rules," Lebanon's foreign ministry has sent invitations to the accredited ambassadors, including Syria, to attend the opening of the summit.

Sources said Arab states decided to lower the level of their representation to the summit as a message to Lebanon following developments linked to Libya’s invitation.

Libya announced its boycott after Amal movement supporters took down a Libyan flag erected on the road leading up to the Biel center in Beirut, where the summit will be held, replacing it with their own.

“How can Arab heads of state come to Beirut in light of this situation, which revealed the absence of effective state authority,” the sources said.

Amal objects that Lebanon builds ties with Libya due to the 1978 disappearance of the movement’s founder, Imam Mousa al-Sadr, and two of his companions during an official visit to the country.

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