Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz is in Amman as head of the Kingdom's delegation to the Arab Summit that opened there today under the chairmanship of Jordan's King Abdullah II. The delegation includes Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Minister of State and Cabinet Member Dr. Musaid Al-Aiban, and Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Abdulrahman Al-Awhali.
Since his arrival yesterday Prince Sultan has visited with a number of the other Arab leaders, including Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Yemeni President Ali Abdulllah Salih, and Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. On arrival, he declared that he had high hopes of the outcome of this Summit leading to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace that restores to the Palestinian people their legitimate rights including the establishment of their independent state with Al-Quds as its capital.
Addressing the Summit's inaugural session today, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said the extraordinary Summit in Cairo last October reflected the Arab World's unwavering support for the people of Palestine. He referred to the nomination of Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa as Secretary-General of the League of Arab States as significant in enabling that organization to play a more active role, and spoke of new mechanisms to ensure immediate delivery of financial support to the Palestinians through the Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds Funds. Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Abdelwahid Belgaziz reiterated the Muslim World's support of the Palestinians, attesting to their right to rise up against Israel's repressive measures and stressing the need for coordination among the Arab and Muslim countries in order to be of assistance to them. Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity Salim Ahmed Salim reiterated the OAU's support for the rights of the Palestinians, and also drew attention to the problems of Sudan, Somalia, and Libya, stressing the need for Arab-African cooperation to resolve these problems. Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan noted that the international community is concerned about the continued occupation by Israel of Palestinian and Syrian territories, and urged resumption of the peace talks on all tracks; he also expressed anxiety over the sufferings of the Iraqi people, but said lifting sanctions depends on the cooperation of the Iraqi leadership. Other speakers, during this and the evening session, expressed the need for Arab solidarity, and support for the cause of the Palestinian people; Palestinian President Yasser Arafat reiterated his hope that the Summit would send a clear message to Israel and to the world, that the people of Palestine are not alone.
Meanwhile, the Government of the State of Qatar today submitted to the Arab Summit in Amman an official memorandum on the importance of strengthening the Arab League, calling for amendment of its charter to enhance the authority of its Secretary-General. The memorandum also called for the establishment of the Arab Common Market to achieve economic integration, and for activation of the Joint Arab Defense Treaty, with appropriate measures to be taken to establish a joint Arab defense force under the umbrella of the League of Arab States.