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Mubarak nixes talks on Arab summit with Syria, Sudan leaders

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    Last Update: 01/04/2004 11:59 Mubarak nixes talks on Arab summit with Syria, Sudan leaders http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/411368.html By The Associated
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2004
      Last Update: 01/04/2004 11:59

      Mubarak nixes talks on Arab summit with Syria, Sudan leaders
      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/411368.html
      By The Associated Press

      CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had wrapped up a series of meetings in the resort city of
      Sharm el-Sheik aimed at rescuing an Arab summit and was returning to Cairo Thursday.

      No official reason was given for Mubarak's decision to return to the Egyptian capital. He had been
      expected to meet Thursday in Sharm el-Sheik with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Sudanese
      President Omar el-Bashir.

      Egyptian presidential officials told reporters that Mubarak's chief of staff, Zacharia Azmi, had
      announced that the Egyptian leader would not be holding any meetings in Sharm on Thursday and would
      return to Cairo instead.

      Over the last three days in Sharm, Mubarak had met the kings of Jordan and Bahrain and the de facto
      ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Abdullah.

      Arab leaders have been frantically trying to reschedule the annual summit, which Tunisia canceled 48
      hours before it was to have begun on Monday, citing deep differences over an agenda designed to
      address U.S.-backed calls for regional reforms and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

      Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have welcomed Mubarak's offer to hold the summit
      in Egypt.

      But Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahya said President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali still wants to
      host the summit.

      Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, said he would visit Tunisia on Friday to discuss "the
      time, place and substance" of any upcoming summit.

      A high-level American delegation also met Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheik on Wednesday. U.S. calls for
      more democracy in this region where heads of state often serve for life and societies are tightly
      controlled had been among the contentious issues Arab leaders were to address at their summit.

      Washington's Greater Middle East Initiative, which has not yet been officially released, urges Arab
      states to promote democracy, human rights and the status of women. It also encourages the upgrading
      of educational systems and economic liberalization.

      The plan prompted a chorus of Arab complaints of interference in their domestic affairs and calls
      for homegrown democratic reforms rather than importing Western ideas.
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