Fight Erupts at Muslim Nations' Meeting

Iraq's vice president shouted, "Shut up, you monkey!" at a Kuwaiti diplomat Wednesday during an emergency summit of Islamic nations that sought but failed to develop a new position on preventing a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq.

In the end of the day, divisions remained too strong and delegates to the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference summit broke up with a final statement welcoming Iraqi cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors and expressing hope it would continue.

They rejected war against Iraq and urged Islamic countries to abstain from participating in military action against Iraq or any other Islamic nation.

Earlier, Sheik Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti minister of state for foreign affairs, interrupted Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri's speech to the summit with an inaudible remark. Al-Douri responded -- his remarks aired live by Arab satellite television stations -- with "Shut up you monkey. Curse be upon your mustache (honor), you traitor."

He derided Kuwait's foreign minister, saying, "Today, you see how in all swaggering and rudeness, he ... threatens Iraq's security at the core and calls on American troops to amass in his land --" At that point, he was interrupted by an inaudible remark from Sheik Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah.

Al-Douri retorted, "Shut up you monkey. Curse be upon your mustache, you traitor" -- using a traditional insult to a man's honor.

"This is hypocrisy and falsehood," Sheik Mohammed shot back, in remarks aired live by Arab satellite television stations.

Kuwaiti Information Minister Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed leaped up and waved a small Kuwaiti flag.

The summit's host, Qatari emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, admonished al-Douri, telling him: "You started your speech with a verse from the Quran saying, `Thou shalt be united by the word of God." The emir then moved on to the next speaker -- from Afghanistan -- saying, "We are not here for such exchanges."

Iraqi delegates left the room briefly until they were persuaded to return. "The Iraqis always behave like this," Sheik Ahmed said.

Sheik Hamad tried to shift the summit focus back to its lofty goal of unity, closing the session by saying: "We are eager to make this summit a success ... and the proof is that you are all here with the aim of sparing the region any action that will destabilize the security and peace."

Calls for Saddam to quit power and go into exile have grown stronger among fellow Arabs.

The United Arab Emirates proposed at an Arab League summit Saturday in Egypt that Saddam step down, an idea favored by Gulf countries and openly advocated by Kuwait, where there is no fondness for the regime that invaded in 1990 and occupied the country until the 1991 Gulf war.

Iran put forward its own Iraqi peace proposal Tuesday that urged the divided Iraqi opposition to reconcile with Saddam and called for U.N. supervised elections.

Though it appeared unlikely either proposal would be discussed formally at Wednesday's summit, they weren't far from delegates' minds.

Shortly before al-Douri's speech, Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, used his speech to urge Iraqi leaders to consider exile as a way out of the crisis.

"Kuwait, while it supports this (Emirates) initiative that aims at sparing the region a destructive war ... calls on the Iraqi leadership to think in depth about offering the ultimate sacrifices," he said.

Osama El Baz, a key adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, told reporters in Doha the Iranian proposal is "serious" and deserves consideration. Iraqi exiles, however, have been skeptical at best of the Iranian plan; even the Iranian-based Shiite Muslim Iraqi opposition group, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has rejected it.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, when asked about the Emirates' proposal, said: "That's over."

"Any calls for stepping down should be directed to Mr. Bush, who is causing his country to be hated around the world and is becoming public enemy No. 1," Sabri added of President Bush. Asked about the Iranian proposal, he said: "There is no Iranian proposal."

On Monday, a meeting in Doha of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council gave preliminary backing to the Emirates' initiative but did not formally endorse it, saying it should be discussed further in the Arab League. In addition to Kuwait, Bahrain has lent its full support to calls for Saddam's ouster. Both Gulf states host thousands of U.S. military personnel primed for war.

Saturday's Arab League summit declined to discuss the Emirates' proposal; that meeting, too, saw an angry exchange of insults during remarks about Gulf countries' willingness to host American forces. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Saudi King Fahd had acknowledged to him a willingness to "cooperate with the devil" to protect his country from Iraq during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah called Gadhafi "an agent for colonizers," and the session was abruptly halted.