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Egypt Welcomed Back Into Fold on Eve of Arab League Summit

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From Associated Press

Egypt was officially welcomed back into the Arab fold, after an absence of 10 years, as the Arab League opened a ministerial meeting Sunday to prepare for a summit conference.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Abdellatif Filali, in the opening address, said: “We are all witnessing today an important historical event demonstrated in the participation of the Arab Republic of Egypt’s delegation . . . in our meetings after a long absence.”

Two seats for delegates from the 22-nation Arab League were vacant at the conference hall.

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Libya is boycotting the session because it opposes Egypt’s return to the league, and there was no representative from Lebanon, where there are rival Christian and Muslim governments.

Egypt’s membership was suspended after former President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

“I am certain that Egypt’s return to the Arab League and the resumption of its full membership in our organization will contribute to joint Arab action and the strengthening of Arab solidarity,” Filali said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid said in response: “Egypt is pleased to resume its membership and the historical and important responsibilities that entails.”

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is expected to attend the summit conference, which opens Tuesday.

The ministerial meeting began at 7 p.m. after several delays because of a six-member committee discussion of the situation in Lebanon, where Christian militias have been waging artillery duels with Syrian army units and their Druze allies.

The committee did not submit a report but agreed to recommend to the Arab leaders that both of Lebanon’s declared premiers, Christian Michel Aoun and Muslim Salim Hoss, be invited to the summit.

Conference sources said that Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon, “voiced reservations” about the proposal to invite Maj. Gen. Aoun, who has vowed to dislodge Syrian forces from Lebanon.

Lebanon and the Palestinian uprising in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip will be two of the main topics at the summit.


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