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Lebanese Block Arafat's Live Speech

Aired March 27, 2002 - 08:49   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to go now live to Beirut where Brent Sadler is standing by. There have been very late developments at the Arab League summit, there is talk of some delegations pulling out. Let's turn to Brent to find out what's going on there right now. Brent, what have you learned?

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Paula. Some drama over the past half an hour or so. It began when the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was supposed to be taking part in a live teleconference between himself in his West Bank headquarters of Ramallah and here at the summit, Arab summit, conference center in the hotel complex behind me.

Now, that didn't happen. Instead, we saw Mr. Arafat pop up on the Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite network. He gave a long speech, but that wasn't the way it was supposed to pan out. He should have been beamed directly (AUDIO GAP) after the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad.

Now, we understand from the Lebanese delegation attending the conference that it was blocked, Mr. Arafat's presence live to the conference, was blocked by the Lebanese authorities, and that's created quite some -- quite a fuss behind the scenes, with Mr. Arafat apparently sending instructions to his delegation to immediately walk out of the first session of the conference. There's no confirmation they will or will not be returning. Still some dispute over that.

No real explanation yet about why the Lebanese blocked that live link-up. It could possibly be to do with, we understand, the fact that taking live pictures from Israel seen here to Lebanon, Lebanon technically at war with Israel still, was unacceptable on the Lebanese political front, but whatever the reasons, certainly some drama here right now -- Paula.

ZAHN: Brent, has anybody else walked out?

SADLER: Well, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president never came in the first place, neither did King Abdullah from Jordan. Two key Middle East players there, and certainly the non-appearance of Yasser Arafat and this fuss over his live appearance is certainly making this conference very dramatic, and not least its crucial impact on the future of peace in the Middle East.

ZAHN: Brent Sadler, keep us posted. Thank you very much for that update.

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