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Arab League Summit May Be Posponed Again - 2004-05-08

Arab foreign ministers are meeting in Cairo to lay the groundwork for an Arab League summit scheduled for later this month. However, in the Egyptian capital, Arab League officials say, there are no guarantees the summit will take place.

The foreign ministers met behind closed doors Saturday to work out the details of the Arab League summit, tentatively scheduled to take place in Tunis May 22.

The summit was to have taken place last month in the Tunisian capital, but, at the last minute, it was canceled.

The head of the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Abdel Moneim Said, says the Arab League's 22 members will have several critical issues to discuss, including Iraq, Israel and the Palestinians.

"It's very important now, because the whole Iraqi venture has been complicated," he said. "The Palestinian one, because of the rejection of the Sharon plan by his own party, and the American assurances to him. All of this making the Palestinian issue also much more complicated. So, I think, now, the Arab summit really has to face even a more difficult and complicated situation than it was previously."

Senior Arab League officials say, among the many contentious issues the foreign ministers have to resolve is Arab response to the recent disclosure that some U.S. soldiers had abused Iraqi prisoners.

Arab League officials admit that may prove to be too tall an order, and there is the possibility the summit may be postponed once again.

The foreign ministers' meeting continues Sunday.