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Arab Leaders End Summit With Support for Sudan's Embattled Leader


Arab leaders ended their annual summit in Doha, Qatar, with a list of resolutions and closing statements vowing unity, despite recent divisions and verbal disputes. One resolution expressed Arab support for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is the subject of an international arrest warrant for war crimes in Darfur.

Qatar's Sheikh Hamid ended the annual Arab summit in Qatar to applause and on a note of solidarity, as Arab leaders vowed to support Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in his tug-of-war with the International Criminal Court over an indictment for war crimes in Darfur.

Libya's mercurial leader Moammar Gadhafi was also on his best behavior at the conference end, thanking fellow leaders, despite an earlier outburst that disrupted the opening session.

Seventeen heads of state from the 22-member Arab League attended the annual summit, amid storm clouds of dissension over the indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and the absence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon used his appearance at the summit to criticize Sudan for its decision to expel aid agencies in Darfur.

"Despite the efforts of Sudanese line ministries, U.N. agencies and the remaining NGOs, the gaps cannot be filled with the existing capacities," said Ban. "I urge the Sudanese authorities to reverse this decision."

President Bashir, who ordered aid groups out of Darfur immediately following the issuing of the arrest warrant against him, told the summit that the Sudanese people are rallying around him, and he later thanked Arab leaders for supporting him in his battle against what he called an "unjust indictment."

He tells Arab leaders that their support for Sudan against what he calls unjust charges that threaten the unity of the country, as well as their support for the humanitarian situation in Darfur. He also vows that he will do his utmost, in cooperation with other Arab leaders, to achieve stability across all of Sudan.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki noted that Iraq has made "much progress" in achieving stability, but requested that Baghdad host the 2011 Arab summit, instead of the next summit in 2010. Libya was asked to host the 2010 summit in Iraq's place.


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