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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-323411 Arab Summit
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE= 03/22/05

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE= ARAB / SUMMIT (L-O)

NUMBER=2-323411

BYLINE=GREG LAMOTTE

DATELINE=CAIRO

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

HEADLINE: Arab League Opens Two-Day Summit in Algiers

INTRO: The 22-member Arab League opens a two-day summit in Algiers, Tuesday, but as many as eight Arab heads of state will not be attending. And, despite the pressing issues of democratic reform in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict; and the Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon, the summit is instead expected to focus much of its attention on reforms within the Arab League, itself. VOA's Greg LaMotte has the story from our Middle East Bureau in Cairo.

TEXT: At the top of the agenda is a revived plan for peace that would give Israel the

chance to normalize relations with the Arab countries, in return for a complete pullout of

land captured by Israel in 1967 and later annexed.

Three years ago, Israel rejected a similar land-for peace proposal put forth by Saudi

Arabia.

A Jordanian initiative that called on Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel,

before a complete Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands, was dismissed by Arab League

foreign ministers. Instead, league members are expected to reaffirm their support for the

2002 Saudi initiative that promises normalized relations, after Israel withdraws from

captured territories.

In the meantime, the Arab League is not expected to address some of the most-pressing

issues in the region, including the Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon. According to

the head of the political science department at Lebanese-American University, Sami

Baroudi, what goes on between Syria and Lebanon is a matter of internal politics.

/ / / BAROUDI ACTUALITY / / /

"There is an agreement between the governments of Syria and Lebanon that they do not want that issue to come to the discussions with the Arab League. And, I do not think any Arab country can really put this on the agenda, given that the government of Lebanon does not want it to be on the agenda. Anyway, we know that, informally, that it was discussed between the Saudis and the Syrians and probably between the Egyptians and the Syrians, but it will not come to the actual deliberations of the heads of state."

/ / / END ACTUALITY / / /

The league is expected to adopt language offering some supportive words for Syria, against pressure from the United States.

Although democratic reform is being widely discussed throughout the Arab world, the issue

will not be addressed by the Arab League. Instead, league officials have said they will

discuss democratic reforms within the Arab League, itself, including the formation of a

non-elected Arab parliament. The parliament would act as a consultative body for the

league. (Signed)

NEB/GL/WD



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