Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:23 pm (KSA) 17:23 pm (GMT)

Saudi King stays away from Arab summit

Saudi's Arab League envoy Ahmad Qattan (File)
Saudi's Arab League envoy Ahmad Qattan (File)

Saudi Arabia will not send King Abdullah or Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal to an Arab summit in Damascus later this week, Riyadh's ambassador to the Arab League Ahmad Qattan said Monday.

Qattan, speaking on the margins of a preparatory meeting, said he would head his country's delegation to the March 29-30 summit instead.

The decision reflects the strained ties between Riyadh and Damascus over the deep political crisis in Lebanon.

Some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have accused Syria of blocking a vote in Lebanon to elect a president to replace Emile Lahoud who quit in November at the end of his term.

Syria and its ally Iran back the Lebanese opposition led by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Riyadh and Cairo have linked the level of their participation at the summit to a solution to the presidential crisis in Beirut, where parliament is due to meet on Tuesday in a fresh bid to elect a head of state.

Sixteen previous attempts have foundered since September amid a tug-of-war between the majority and the opposition over the formation of a new government.

It was not clear if Lebanon will boycott the summit, but on Monday, Beirut's delegate to the Arab League did not attend the preparatory meeting.

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