Fri, Mar 29, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Arabs agree on Middle East peace plan


An Arab summit in Beirut unanimously endorsed a Saudi-inspired plan for Middle East peace yesterday, offering Israel normal ties and full peace in exchange for complete withdrawal from occupied Arab land.

A Beirut Declaration, read by Lebanon's Culture Minister Ghassan Salameh near the close of the two-day meeting, embraced the plan proposed by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah.

The declaration said Israel must also accept a Palestinian state and agree to a "just solution" to the Palestinian refugee problem in line with a 1948 UN resolution that calls for them to be repatriated or compensated.

In return the Arab countries would "consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended and enter into a peace agreement with Israel [and] establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace", the document says.

It demanded the lifting of UN sanctions on Iraq imposed for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and rejected any attack on Iraq. "We stress our total rejection of any attack on Iraq," it said.

Delegates said the summit also approved an agreement between Gulf War foes Iraq and Kuwait that could pave the way for a rapprochement.

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