We tried to help Iraq: Sultan
By a Staff Writer
AMMAN, 29 March — Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, said yesterday that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries tried their best to settle the row between Kuwait and Iraq but the peace overtures failed because of Iraqi intransigence.
“We intended to help Iraq but it refused to help itself,” said Prince Sultan, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to the Amman summit. “So the committee will exert its efforts, to which we are not obliged in any way. We will see what they are doing,” he said when asked about a panel set up by the summit, under the chairmanship of Jordan’s King Abdallah, to follow up on the Iraqi issue.
Informed sources told Arab News that Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, had presented a paper at the summit to get the sanctions on Iraq lifted and persuade the United States and Britain to stop airstrikes on that country. “The proposal was a big surprise for the Iraqi delegation. It rejected the paper saying it found the imprints of Saudis and Kuwaitis in it, and that it was not responding to Baghdad’s demands,” the sources added.
Addressing the summit’s concluding session, Prince Sultan called on the UN Security Council to endorse the Palestinians’ legitimate right to protection and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland. The Saudi leader urged the co-sponsors of the peace process to help lift an Israeli economic blockade of Palestinian-ruled areas and force it to resume peace negotiations with Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon.
“We should extend all-out support to the Palestinians to protect their identity and safeguard Jerusalem,” Prince Sultan said. He also urged Arab countries to bolster economic cooperation by lifting customs barriers, promoting joint investment and activating joint Arab institutions in their bid to establish a powerful economic bloc. The Kingdom also called on Iran to settle its island row with the UAE peacefully.
Prince Sultan said the Amman conference generated optimism about a brighter
Arab future, promising more closeness and solidarity and underlining the
vitality and greatness of the Arab nation. “This enables the Arab nation
to play its normal role as a source for human civilization and a strong
supporter of the values of peace, justice and equality.”
Prince Sultan called for changing the approach and methodology followed by Arabs in dealing with major issues. “The idea of the periodic convention must not be a goal in itself but rather a means for reaching desired goals,” he pointed out. He welcomed Amr Moussa’s appointment as the new secretary-general of the Arab League.
Prince Sultan called upon Arab states to avoid double standard in dealing with one another.
“We must also realize that integration among our countries cannot be reached without paying the price and without a willingness to sacrifice in the context of dealing with each other provided that the final result is in the interest of all.” He emphasized the need for sacrifices to achieve unity and integration.
On efforts to resolve the Iraqi issue, informed sources told Arab News
that the negative Iraqi approach prompted a pro-Iraqi Arab leader to say
that he doubted whether Baghdad really wanted the sanctions lifted.
The sources said the paper on Iraq called for the lifting of sanctions including the embargo on civilian flights, but the Iraqi delegates protested by saying they were not interested in calls but wanted immediate action to lift sanctions. The paper presented at the summit had also called for preventing all activities against Iraq and urged Baghdad to comply with all Security Council resolutions.
It emphasized the Arab League Charter on the unity and independence of member states, as well as Kuwait’s independence and territorial integrity, and urged Iraq to abide by this principle. “But the Iraqi delegation became angry after the presentation of the paper,” the sources said.
Kuwait MPs and officials, meanwhile, objected to the method followed
Ahmad Al-Saadoun, speaker of the Kuwaiti parliament, said any effort to narrow Arab differences should not be at the expense of Kuwait.
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