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Arab leaders declare opposition to war in Iraq

Arab League calls on Saddam to cooperate with inspections

The summit was brought forward from late March to address Iraq.
The summit was brought forward from late March to address Iraq.

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SHARM Al-SHEIKH, Egypt (CNN) -- The leaders of the Arab League came out strongly against war in Iraq, asking Arab nations Saturday not to participate in such a war but also calling on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to comply fully and completely with all U.N. resolutions.

The final declaration of Saturday's summit called for a high-level delegation, led by Bahrain, to go to Baghdad and all members of the Security Council to deliver the message of the Arab nations.

"We are 100 percent for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions," said Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. "Here we shall not hesitate to say anything that shall lead to full implementation of the Security Council resolutions."

The Arab leaders also said that they wanted to see the inspections regimen given more time to work -- and that no military action be taken without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

Moussa said the Arab leaders were keen to stop the drive for war.

"If whatever we are doing .... is not enough, so what can we do?" he said. "We shall definitely oppose the war. We cannot be a part of it or contribute to it or sympathize with it."

"What's the hurry to conduct a war that is extremely unpopular in the region, in the world, and unjustified?" Moussa added. "We don't understand why."

The declaration fell short of a statement the league's foreign ministers issued last month, in which they condemned Arab nations for "facilitating" military action by hosting U.S. bases.

Gadhafi blames crisis on Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, U.S.

The summit nearly broke into chaos when Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi blamed the Middle East's problems on the presence of U.S. troops in the region.

Then Gadhafi blamed their presence on Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others for involving the United States in the Gulf War 12 years ago.

Gadhafi's remarks prompted Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and the Iraqi and Syrian delegations to walk out while Libya's foreign minister ran after them to explain Gadhafi had meant no harm.

The Egyptian broadcast network televising the proceedings briefly pulled the plug.

"The danger with Iraq, with the present regime, is of a threat in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia," Gadhafi said. "And America is responsible to defend, as the region is very important to oil and resources.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not an agent of imperialism," the Prince Abdullah retorted, wagging a finger at Gadhafi. "Don't try to impose your opinion in this conflict if you're not aware of facts."

Gadhafi was not the only one to denounce the United States. Syrian President Bashar Assad delivered a particularly strong speech, saying the situation in Iraq was about colonialism, and warned that the rest of the Arab world was next in line.

Earlier, the United Arab Emirates caused a stir when it submitted a written proposal calling for Saddam Hussein to surrender power and leave Iraq.

"The Arab League, in cooperation with the U.N. secretary-general, should supervise the situation in Iraq for an interim period during which all necessary measures are taken in order to return the situation to its normal situation according to the will of the brotherly Iraqi people," the proposal said.

It also called for "a general, complete amnesty... for all Iraqis inside and outside Iraq."

Submitted on behalf of his delegation by United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan, it stipulated that Saddam leave Iraq within 14 days of accepting the proposal.

Moussa said the proposal was not considered an official request and "was excluded from the consideration of the council."

"This has nothing to do with the Security Council resolution," he said. "We don't see the justification of going beyond the Security Council."

The Iraqis responded angrily. In New York, Mohammed Aldouri, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, said Saddam's relinquishing power was "not at all" likely.

Inside the chambers, the Iraqi representative said that Iraqis "have the right to defend ourselves" and will be led by God to victory.

"The people of Iraq have decided to stand by as one man against the aggressors," said Dizzat Ibrahim, deputy chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Council. "They will fight and defend Iraq."

CNN senior international correspondent Christiane Amanpour contributed to this report.


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