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Afro-Arab Summit Calls for Increased Cooperation Among Members

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, centre, with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, and his Yemeni counterpart Ali Abdullah Saleh, centre left, during a group picture with Arab and African leaders during the second Afro-Arab summit in Sirte, Libya, 10 Oc

Arab and African leaders are meeting in the Libyan town of Syrte for an Afro-Arab summit to discuss increasing mutual cooperation in various domains.

Arab and African leaders met in the Libyan town of Syrte on the heels of an Arab League summit just one day earlier.

Libyan head of state Colonel Muammar Khaddafi, who presided over both summits, warned against the eventual division of Sudan, following a scheduled referendum on the subject this January:

He says that two-thirds of all Arabs are African and they have racial, linguistic and geographic ties with the other third living outside Africa. He insists any conflict in Sudan will spread from Africa to the rest of the Arab world and it will be difficult to prevent the division of other Arab states. He also claims that so-called 'imperialistic' states, as well as Israel are behind developments in Sudan.

The Colonel went on to argue the break-up of Sudan into north and south would threaten all of Africa.

He says what is happening in Sudan is a disease, or at the very least a contagion for all of Africa, because it would represent the first time since the end of colonialism that the map of Africa, inherited from colonial borders, will be redrawn. This, he claims, is a bad precedent that could spell the division of many other African states.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose country hosted the first Afro-Arab summit in Cairo in 1977, insisted it is time to translate mutual relations into mutual cooperation:

He says Arab states in Africa represent 70 percent of the Arab world and 20 percent of Africa, and the time has come for these common threads to be translated into more mutual cooperation under the umbrella of the African Union and the Arab League.

A draft strategy for Arab and African cooperation was also proposed to the delegates of the 60 Arab and African states who attended the summit.

Sources at the Arab League indicated a "Syrte Declaration" would outline the issues of peace, security, development and cooperation between Arab and African states. Mutual cooperation, they noted, would help protect Arab and African countries from the threats of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and the threat of terrorism.

Several African leaders touched on economic, political and security issues. Chad's President Idriss Deby warned of an insidious, natural threat to many Arab and African states, which is desertification:

He says desertification, and the sedimentation and drying up of waterways, like the Niger River, are subjects of pre-occupation for African states (and) they constitute a regional problem which necessitates collective action.

The summit is also expected to finalize a Partnership Strategy Project and to set up committees to address its recommendations.

Kuwait is due to host the next summit of Arab and African leaders in 2013.