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Libya Threatens to Quit Arab League over Saudi Peace Plan - 2002-03-03

The secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, made a hasty flight to Tripoli after Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi threatened to pull out of the organization. The Libyan leader denounced the Saudi Arabian initiative for Middle East peace

In a speech on state-run television Saturday, President Gadhafi described the Arab League as "ridiculous" because it has been unable to arrive at any solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He called on the Libyan parliament to withdraw from the 22-member organization of Arab states.

Colonel Gadhafi also rejected last week's Saudi Arabian proposal offering Israel full Arab diplomatic recognition if Israel pulls out of the territories it occupied in the Middle East war of 1967. He said Saudi Arabia was the one country that should not indulge in "cheap bargaining."

The Arab League secretary general flew to the eastern city of Sirte to try to convince the Libyan leader to abandon his threat to withdraw from the organization.

An Arab League summit will be held at the end of this month in Lebanon, where Saudi Prince Abdullah is expected to seek support from Arab leaders for his plan. Colonel Gadhafi says he will not attend.

Reportedly the Libyan leader became disillusioned with the Arab League following a recent meeting with the secretary general. He claimed Mr. Moussa told him the Arab League would not contemplate open war or even sanctions against Israel.

Colonel Gadhafi's proposal for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict calls for the right of return for seven million Palestinian refugees living in Arab States, for the dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction in the region, and for the establishment of a joint Israel-Palestine state - to be called "Isratine" - with Jerusalem as the capital.