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Iraq Governing Council Rejects Arab League Invitation - 2003-08-18

An invitation to visit the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo has been turned down by members of the interim Iraqi governing council.

Arab League officials say the interim Iraqi governing council rejected the invitation to visit the league's headquarters because the invitation was on a personal, rather than official, basis.

Governing council member Nosseir el Gadragi, in rejecting the invitation, told the Arab League the council would visit Cairo, but only if the invitation was addressed on an official and presidential level.

While many Arab states have said they will support the U.S.-appointed governing council in Iraq, none has given official recognition to the council, saying such recogition can be afforded only to an Iraqi-elected government.

Arab League spokesman Hisham Yousef told VOA that while the league supports the Iraqi governing council, it must also recognize other political entities in Iraq.

"This council, important as it is, is not the only political force in town. So we will be dealing with this council trying to help them as much as we can," he said. "But this does not prevent us from dealing with other political forces in Iraq. In essence, what we are saying is that we should be listening and talking to everybody, including the council and including those who are in support of the council, and as well as those who are criticizing the council."

Mr. Yousef says there is no need to give official recognition to an interim governing body. What is important, he says, is that the Iraqi people are supported in their effort to govern themselves.

Washington has asked Arab states to support the council during Iraq's transition to a fully elected government.