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Arab Summit

Arab leaders call summit a success

June 23, 1996
Web posted at: 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT)

From Correspondent Richard Roth

CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- With a thank you from the host, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, the first Arab summit in six years came to an end Sunday.

The summit contained a large display of Arab unity and promises of more solidarity ahead. And there were also many messages delivered in the final communique the Arab leaders released.

The Arabs told Israel that if its new government tries to change the terms of peace negotiations, the 21 Arab states gathered in Cairo will reconsider their positions as well -- and that would almost certainly lead to rising tensions and repercussions.

Mubarak

"What do you expect?" Mubarak told CNN. "Much more violence, much more terrorism." (119K AIFF or WAV sound)

Israel's newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Arabs of making "one-sided demands," but Mubarak and other moderate leaders do not appear overly concerned.

"I believe that (Israel) will honor all the previous agreements," said Jordan's King Hussein. "And that is what we wish." (94K AIFF or WAV sound)

Still, the communique demands that Israel make moves the new government is not ready to agree to -- the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital and a dismantling of Jewish settlements.

That language, plus a chance to patch up differences with Syria's President Hafez Assad, pleased Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority.

Moussa

The Arabs hope that their bolstered unity can convince Israel to respond.

"It is a step from here, for a step from the other side, for a balanced peace, and a balance in security," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa. (145K AIFF or WAV sound)

On other matters in the region, the Arabs supported Bahrain, which charged non-Arab Iran with plotting terrorism.

Syria's Assad called the summit "excellent" after delegates called on Turkey to reconsider its expanding military ties with Israel, something Syria finds threatening.

Gadhafi

And reclusive Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had his day in the sun. The Arab leaders threatened to break U.N. sanctions on Libya because of the suffering of the Libyan people.

"I think Libya gained in this summit," Gadhafi said. (136K AIFF or WAV sound)

Gadhafi departed Cairo like a victor -- apparently breaking the air traffic embargo on Libya, as he did with his arrival on Friday.

And despite the forceful line expressed on the Middle East, with the guests gone, the summit's organizer was upbeat on the peace process.

"I could tell you very frankly I'm very optimistic," said Mubarak. "Some people don't agree with me on that, but I am very optimistic." (111K AIFF or WAV sound)

By all accounts, the Arab countries got their differences with Israel and each other out in the open. Now it's time for the major sponsor of the Middle East peace process -- the United States -- to weigh in. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher is likely to do that this week, when he makes scheduled visits to Israel and Egypt.



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