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Iraq divides Arab world

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Iraqi demands for support against U.N. sanctions are threatening to split a meeting of Arab leaders.

Arab leaders meeting in Jordan are also to discuss support for Palestinians fighting Israeli rule and how to deal with the new Israeli administration.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will also attend Tuesday's summit -- billed as the Summit of Accord and Agreement -- in Amman which Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yasser Arafat has described as the most important yet.

"This summit is held during a difficult time, especially for the Palestinian people, who face a dangerous military escalation on our towns and villages," Arafat said.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who stayed away from an emergency summit in Cairo in October and publicly ridiculed its draft resolutions, is also in Jordan for the talks.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more on Tuesday's Arab League Summit

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CNN's Rula Amin describes the summit preparations

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Arab League: The issues

The PA wants the 22 nations attending the summit to pledge diplomatic and financial support to its intifada during the summit.

The PA is facing a severe financial crisis unable to pay the salaries of its 130,000 employees as a result of Israel's refusal to hand over tax revenues collected from Palestinians working in Israel.

Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia favour pursuing diplomatic means to resolve the crisis, while Syria prefers a complete cut in all diplomatic ties and a revival of the Arab boycott of Israel.

Arab leaders will also be discussing how to deal with the new Israeli Government -- led by Ariel Sharon, who is widely despised in the Arab world. His election victory has thrown the entire peace process into doubt.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has won widespread praise for Baghdad's rhetorical and material support for the Palestinian uprising and the league's relations with Iraq is also on the agenda.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf has demanded that the summit support his country's demands for an end to both U.N. sanctions and U.S. and British air patrols over Iraq.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, although supporting an easing of sanctions, remain bitterly opposed to rehabilitating Baghdad until the Iraqi leadership apologises for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

They also want Baghdad to account for hundreds of Kuwaitis and other nationals who went missing during Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.


United Nations
Palestinian National Authority
Israeli Prime Minister's Office

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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