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Saddam Hussein calls for support for the Palestinians


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Arafat calls for U.N. force

Arafat and Assad mend fences

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AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein called on Arab leaders to back the Palestinian cause Tuesday in a 25-minute speech that never mentioned the 10-year-old U.N. sanctions against his nation.

"We should support the intifada of the heroic Palestinian people, the cohesion of Islam and Arabism and not to keep ourselves busy with side issues and down with Jews," said Hussein in an address read by Izzat Ibrahim, the leader of the Iraqi delegation.

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Kofi Annan: "Israel has a right to exist in safety"

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Summit leaders had hoped that the Arab nations could forge a stand calling for the lifting of the Iraqi sanctions, but those close to the talks said no compromise that would allow for a unified statement on the issue was in the offing.

The summit began with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak calling for economic cooperation among Arab nations, and the summit's host, King Abdullah II of Jordan, saying Arab nations must support the Palestinians.

"We must provide them with the support and assistance that will enable them to regain their full rights and establish their independent state and their land with Jerusalem as its capital," said the king.

But the measured statements of Mubarak and Abdullah were countered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who said, "Ten years after the start of the peace process it has been proved that it's a failure."

Assad attacked Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, saying, "Sharon will not change. He doesn't want peace, and so are the Israeli people who voted for him.

"We say it's a racist government. We say a racist army. When it comes to the Israeli society we are silent. What logic is that? They are more racist than the Nazis."

Arafat calls for U.N. force

In his address, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat called on the United Nations to provide an international force to protect the Palestinians.

He waved two documents -- one American and one Polish, he said, that showed Israel is using depleted uranium weapons against the Palestinians. The Israeli government has repeatedly denied that charge.

The Arab leaders were in session when the second bomb of the day went off in Jerusalem, killing the bomber and wounding more than 20 people. Earlier, a car bomb in another section of Jerusalem had injured five people.

The summit leaders issued no formal statement, but Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, when told of the bombings, said, "The violence doesn't just come from the Palestinians."

Palestinian Cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said the bombings were a "direct result of Sharon's policies."

Arafat and Assad mend fences

At the end of the day, Arafat met with Assad in an effort to mend a rupture that developed between Syria and Arafat after the Palestinian leader decided to negotiate the Oslo Accords with Israel.

The two talked for about 45 minutes, said their aides, and discussed a planned trip by Arafat to Damascus.

Other topics discussed were Arafat's relations with opposition Palestinian parties headquartered in Damascus and an effort by the Palestinians and the Syrians to coordinate negotiations with Israel.

Also Tuesday, Kofi Annan became the first U.N. secretary-general to address an Arab summit.

"We understand the international community and the Arab world's criticism for Israel's continued occupation and excessive use of force for quelling the intifada," Annan said. "But the Arabs could be more effective if Israel didn't feel its existence is threatened."



RELATED STORIES:

RELATED SITES:
Palestinian National Authority
Israeli Prime Minister's Office
United Nations

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