Doha: (Agencies: 30/3/2009): Arab leaders have concluded their annual summit by showing their support for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and by pledging to maintain and consolidate Arab solidarity on all issues through constructive dialogue. The Arab League said it rejected the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue a warrant for the arrest of President al-Bashir. President Bashir had earlier spoken at the summit in Qatar, and won strong support from his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. They were among 17 heads of state in Qatar.
At the end of the summit a joint statement by the Arab League said: "We stress our solidarity with Sudan and our rejection of the ICC (International Criminal Court) decision." Earlier in the day, Syrian President Assad said those who had "committed massacres and atrocities in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon" should be arrested first. Many African states, along with Sudan’s key ally China, have called for the ICC proceedings to be suspended, arguing they will hamper efforts to bring peace to Darfur.
The 21st Arab summit also called on the international community to sue Israel for crimes committed against the Palestinians and bring the Israeli officials responsible before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The two-day gathering was cut short and wound up in a single day. Qatar announced that Libya would host next year’s summit instead of Iraq, which declined its turn on the grounds of logistical problems and preserved it right to host the 23rd annual summit in 2011.
The meeting also urged the international community to free the Middle East from all weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, and to force Israel to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The leaders further said that the Arab countries should be given the right to acquire nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The Emir of Qatar meanwhile sponsored a reconciliation between Libyan leader Moamar Kaddafi and the custodian of the two holy mosques King Abdallah Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia who appeared to have buried the hatchet after a feud dating back to 2003.
“We, the Arab leaders meeting at the 21st Arab summit in Doha, are committed to strengthening Arab solidarity and preserving Arab values, security of Arab countries and legitimate rights of Arab states to defend their national independence and resources,” said the statement.
“We resolve to settle Arab differences through constructive dialogue and maintain Arab ties. We salute the Palestinian resistance and condemn the Israeli assault on Gaza”, it added.
“We call for a sustainable ceasefire, stopping the blockade and opening all the border crossings and holding Israel accountable for all the war crimes and violations of international law. We support all Arab efforts to enhance Palestinian unity and we ask Palestinian factions to respond to those efforts in order to reach geo-political unification of Palestinian territories”.
The leaders said the Israeli-Arab conflict must be resolved, and Golan Heights in Syria and Lebanese farms of Shebaa should be returned to those countries.
The leaders reiterated their respect for the unity, sovereignty and independence of Iraq while supporting the political course based on the participation of different Iraqi groups. They called on Iran to respond to the UAE’s initiative to find a solution to a dispute over three UAE islands through direct talks or the International Court of Justice. The leaders also rejected any form of terrorism and agreed to eradicate it.