Gaza to top Arab economic summit agenda (Lead)

January 16th, 2009 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Jan 16 (IANS) The situation in Gaza, where the three-week-long Israeli attacks have claimed over 1,100 Palestinian lives, will top the agenda of the Arab economic summit to be held in Kuwait Jan 19-20.“Gaza will be in the heart of the summit due to be held in Kuwait, rather than on its margin or sidelines,” the official Kuwait News Agency quoted Kuwait’s acting Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah as telling the Al Arabiya television channel.

“It will be in the heart of the (Arab) leaders’ discussions,” he said.

All 22 leaders of the Arab League will gather in Kuwait Monday for the two-day Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit.

According to the Kuwaiti minister, the summit would mainly seek to maintain and prop up Arab national security by means of revamping the health and educational sectors in the Arab world.

He also stated that Kuwait would reject all forms of normalised relations with Israel unless Arab rights were restored.

Al-Sabah’s comments came in the wake of the emergency Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh Thursday night convened by Saudi ruler King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to discuss the Gaza situation.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal had said after the meeting that among the most important achievements of the meeting was “the restoration of cohesion in the Gulf rank” regarding the situation in Gaza.

Prince Saud said this was one of the most important times for Arab solidarity.

“The challenge is not simple. Unless the efforts are united, the confrontation of the challenges will be less effective,” Prince Saud told media in Riyadh after the meeting.

Claiming that the Arab initiative has managed to penetrate the ranks of Israeli supporters in Europe, he said: “If the initiative is frozen, it will not be implemented; and if it is cancelled, it will not be implemented. Then what is the objective of cancelling it as long as there is a way to put pressure on Israel and decrease the states supporting it.”

Prince Saud also chaired the extraordinary session of Arab foreign ministers, which got under way in Kuwait Friday to look into the latest developments of the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip.

The session is being attended by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, and its Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Helli.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Moussa was quoted as saying that “the Arab situation has become a big mess, very unfortunate and harmful”.

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