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Arab League Praises UN Iraq Resolution - 2002-11-10

The Arab League is praising the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for Iraq to disarm, but warns that any attack on Iraq would be considered a threat to the national security of all Arab nations. The Arab League ministers met in Cairo Sunday.

The Arab League's final communiqué welcomed the U.N. Security Council resolution, which demands that Iraq prove it has no weapons of mass destruction. The statement called on Security Council members to respect pledges not to use the resolution as a pretext for war.

The Arab League also said it is committed to maintaining the integrity of Iraq and that it would consider any military strike against Baghdad as a threat to every Arab country's national security.

The 22-member group also asked that any U.N. weapons inspection team include Arab experts.

The statement demanded that Iraq and the United Nations continue to pursue efforts to resolve the situation in a peaceful way.

The statement followed meetings Sunday, at which Arab League members discussed the ramifications of the Security Council resolution and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Many of the Arab League's foreign ministers said they expected Iraq would accept the new resolution.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein called an emergency meeting of the Iraqi parliament to discuss it. Iraqi television did not say when the lawmakers would meet. The U.N. resolution gives Iraq until Friday to respond, and warns of "serious consequences" if Baghdad fails to comply with its terms.

Following a meeting Sunday between Iraq's foreign minister and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Iraq had expressed readiness to deal with the return of weapons inspectors, and said the U.N. resolution provides an opportunity for a peaceful settlement.

Syria, which is the only Arab state on the U.N. Security Council, voted in favor of the U.N. resolution. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara said in Cairo Sunday, Syria went along with the resolution after receiving assurances from Secretary of State Colin Powell that the resolution would not be used as a pretext to wage war on Iraq. The foreign minister said it was Syria's goal to spare Iraq and the region the consequences of a military strike.

In Washington Sunday, top Bush administration officials said the new U.N. resolution sends a strong message to Iraq. They warned the United States will act if Baghdad refuses to disarm.