Sat, May 10, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Arabs call for urgent meeting on crisis in Lebanon


Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia led calls yesterday for an urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers to try to end the crisis in Lebanon as scores of foreign nationals fled the fighting in Beirut.

Opposition Hezbollah gunmen seized control of west Beirut from pro-government forces yesterday, the third day of sectarian violence which threatened to tip the country into all-out civil war.

The fighting had eased by early afternoon as the army and police moved across areas now in the hands of Shiite opposition forces who routed Sunni militants loyal to the Western-backed government

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports holding an urgent and extraordinary meeting of the Arab League ministerial council in Cairo to discuss the Lebanese crisis and its fallout,” a foreign ministry official was quoted by the state SPA news agency as saying.

Kuwait has evacuated around 150 citizens on buses bound for Syria, KUNA news agency said.

About 70 Saudis have also been evacuated from the Lebanese capital, Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat quoted Saudi Ambassador in Beirut Abdul Aziz al-Khoja as saying.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa cut short a trip to the US and returned to Cairo to join efforts to try to resolve the conflict, which an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said could be held in two days.

Egypt and Jordan voiced support for an Arab meeting.

“Egypt and other Arab countries are very concerned by the actions of Hezbollah in Lebanon,” an Egyptian diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

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