Arab Officials Demand Coalition Forces Leave Iraq

Published April 24, 2003

| Associated Press

Arab officials Thursday called for U.S. and British troops to leave Iraqi immediately, in a statement issued after talks on reviving an economic boycott of Israel.

Representatives of 15 Arab states urged "an immediate and conditional withdrawal of the invading forces from Iraqi territories" and said Iraq should be governed by Iraqis.

The statement, issued after four days of meetings in the Syrian capital, also condemned the Bush administration's recent accusations that Syria sheltered fugitive members of Saddam Hussein's ousted government and possessed chemical weapons.

The criticism amounted to "a dangerous precedent in international relations that threatens world peace and stability," the statement said.

Syria said last week it had closed its border to Iraqi fugitives, and the United States said Damascus was beginning to cooperate.

The meeting also renewed a call for Arab states to revive their economic boycott of Israel to retaliate for its actions against the Palestinians.

The boycott, which the Arab League began in 1951, has waned substantially with Egypt and Jordan making peace with Israel and the Palestinian peace process.

The meeting was attended by officials from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Algeria, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Oman and Somalia.

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