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Sunday Morning News

Iraqi Sanctions Dominate Arab League Discussion

Aired March 25, 2001 - 7:08 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Turning now to the Middle East -- a rift over Iraqi sanctions is dominating talks at a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Jordan. Foreign ministers from 22 countries are meeting in Amman to lay out an agenda for the week's Arab summit.

CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us now with the latest from there.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kyra, as those foreign ministers meet in this building behind me, the first Arab leader to arrive here in Amman for the summit on Tuesday has arrived. That of course is Libyan leader Muammar Khadaffi. He will be attending the Jordanian hosted Arab Summit.

The Jordanians have dubbed the summit the summit of accord and agreement. But at this point, it looks like it may be a summit of disaccord and disagreement. The principle sticking point at this point is the question of Iraq. The Iraqi coming to this summit hoping to get from the final communicate an Arab call for a unilateral lifting of sanctions on Iraq. However, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have said they do not want Iraq to be a major item on the agenda.

Since yesterday Arab foreign ministers have been discussing some sort of compromised solution that would please both parties. Earlier we spoke with Syrian foreign minister Farouk Al Sharaa and this is what he said about the efforts to resolve those differences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMED AL-SAHAF, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: And this drop resolution will be submitted to the Iraqi side and to the Kuwaitis. If it is agreeable for both sides, then it will be included in the final communicate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: Now, Arab leaders would like to see the focus shifted away from Iraqi where there's so much disagreement onto the question of Palestine and Palestinian -- the peace process and the Palestinian uprising. They want to -- there's a general Arab consensus on the question of the Palestinian situation and what they would like to see is increased financial support for the Palestinians back in October in Cairo.

Arab leaders agreed to provide the Palestinians with $1 billion to support their uprising. However, Palestinians officials have the point time and time again that very little of that money has actually arrived. They're working out an agreement here whereby the Palestinians would receive $40 million a month for the next six months. And at least on that area, there seems to be agreement. Back to you Atlanta.

PHILLIPS: All right. Ben Wedeman thank you.

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