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Arab Peace Mission to Baghdad Cancelled - 2003-03-13


A high-level Arab delegation was set to travel to Iraq Friday to meet with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, but the Arab League said Thursday that Baghdad asked that the mission be postponed. The Arab League says the postponement limits Arab efforts to avert war in Iraq.

A statement released Thursday by the Arab League said Iraq made the request to postpone the meeting because of what Iraq called new developments related to what Baghdad said was the American aggression against Iraq.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Thursday that Iraq and the Arab delegation are trying to agree on an appropriate time for both sides to meet.

The Arab League statement also said some members of the delegation were reluctant to make the trip to Baghdad but did not say why. The delegation includes the foreign ministers of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

The delegation, which was formed following a recent Arab League summit in Egypt, traveled last week to the U.N. Security Council to give the Arab position regarding war against Iraq. It was to travel to Baghdad Friday to, among other things, tell Iraq's president to more fully comply with U.N. weapons inspectors.

The Arab League statement called the postponement of the meeting in Baghdad negative and ill-timed and said it censored Arab efforts to avert war.

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