From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Mar 30 2009 - 15:50:43 EST
Libyan, Saudi leaders walk out of Arab Summit after a spat
By Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor in Chief
Last updated: March 30, 2009, 18:45
Doha: Another charade by maverick Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi almost
spoiled the Arab summit on Monday, when what was initially thought to be an
apology to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz turned out to be
The Saudi King left the meeting hall angrily, but returned shortly following
an appeal from the Qatari host. Gaddafi, meanwhile, stormed out of the
summit but the two leaders later met to "clear the air".
"I have been waiting for six years to tell you that you are the liar. You
were made by Britain and protected by the United States," Gaddafi said,
addressing King Abdullah as the rest of Arab leaders looked stunned.
Gaddafi's remarks followed the opening address by the summit host, Shaikh
Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, who failed to stop the Libyan
leader from continuing his barrage.
Gaddafi was referring to a spat with the Saudi King during an Arab summit in
2003 in which King Abdullah described the Libyan leader as "a British-made
and an American agent". This followed a comment by Gaddafi, saying Riyadh
helped the US invade Iraq.
The two countries have also had tense relations since the publication in
June 2004 of a media report in the United States and Saudi Arabia accusing
Gaddafi of plotting the assassination of King Abdullah, then crown prince,
who was on a visit to the holy city of Makkah.
Gaddafi on Monday said he was willing to mend fences with the Kingdom,
despite the initial angry burst. "I am ready to visit you and for you to
visit me," he said.
The Emir of Qatar then managed to stop Gaddafi and offered a surprise
apology; Gaddafi said he only wanted to apologise and open a new page with
King Abdullah, who by then had left the room in protest.
But Gaddafi went on to say that he was "the dean of the Arab leaders, the
king of kings of Africa and the leader of the faithful," before he himself
stormed out of the meeting. Sources told Gulf News that he "went to visit
the museum of Islamic Arts".
A Qatari mediation managed to bring Gaddafi and King Abdullah together later
in the day.
Sources close to the proceeding said that most delegates didn't consider
Gaddafi's remarks as an apology. "It will be another blow to the much hoped
for Arab reconciliation," said the sources, referring to the absence of
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Analysts said Mubarak stayed away from the summit because of differences
with Qatar over Doha's relations with Iran and the Gaza war coverage by
Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel, which Cairo considers as anti-Egypt.
- With input from Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor
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