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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-323454 Arab Summit (L-Update)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE= 03/23/05

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE= ARAB/ SUMMIT (L-UPDATE)

NUMBER=2-323454

BYLINE=GREG LAMOTTE

DATELINE=CAIRO

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

HEADLINE: Arab League Adopts Revamped Arab Peace Initiative

INTRO: The Arab League concluded its two-day summit in Algiers Wednesday agreeing, again, to a 2002 Arab peace initiative put forth by Saudi Arabia. And, just like in 2002, Israel has rejected the proposal. VOA's Greg LaMotte has the story from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.

TEXT: Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa concluded the two-day summit in Algeria saying the Arab world was ready for peace with Israel, but with familiar demands.

/ / / MOUSSA ACT IN ARABIC EST AND FADE UNDER / / /

Mr. Moussa said there cannot be a comprehensive peace agreement unless there is a complete Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories. He said there must be the establishment of a Palestinian state and there must be a solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

In return, Arab states agreed to normalize relations with Israel. It is the same initiative put forth by Saudi Arabia during the 2002 summit in Beirut, which Israel rejected. Tel Aviv has also rejected the latest Arab peace initiative.

Many Arab League members said they did not have high expectations for the summit in Algiers. Eight of the 22 eligible heads of state failed to attend the meeting, opting to instead send representatives.

The summit avoided some of the most pressing issues facing the Arab world including Iraq, Lebanon and the peace process. However, in its final statement, the League said it supports the sovereignty of Iraq. It also said there was Arab solidarity with Syria in the face of U.S. sanctions against Damascus. However, there was no mention of the demands for Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan told the summit that a more comprehensive investigation is needed to determine who killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri last month in Beirut. His assassination triggered massive demonstrations in the Lebanese capital that called for the complete withdrawal of all Syrian troops from Lebanon.

The Secretary General said he has been given guarantees by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that all Syrian troops will be out of Lebanon before elections are held in April and May.

During the summit, Arab leaders agreed to the formation of an Arab parliament that will act in an advisory role to the Arab League. And, there was discussion about further reforms in the Arab world, but no such proposals were adopted. (SIGNED)

NEB/GL/MEM/FC



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