Agence France Presse – 2004-09-15 09:05:45
CAIRO (September 14, 2004) — The Arab League condemned terrorism in Iraq and called on member states to restore full diplomatic relations with the interim government in Baghdad and do all they can to support it, after warning that the “gates of hell” had been opened there.
This came in a statement issued at the end of a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital dominated by Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Sudan and the violence in Iraq.
“It is natural to resist occupation, but this does not mean cutting off heads,” Secretary General Amr Mussa told reporters at a news conference with the Mauritanian foreign minister and current chairman of the ministerial council, Mohammed Fal Bilal. “There has to be a differentiation between clear acts of terrorism and resistance to occupation,” Mussa added, referring to justifications Iraqi militants use to perpetrate violence.
Similar sentiments were echoed in the statement, which argued that “the principles of authentic Islamic religion based on equality, mercy and tolerance forbid and incriminate any harmful actions against the innocent.”
It “condemned all acts of terrorism in Iraq that target civilians, security personnel, police, humanitarian and religious institutions and abductions that are being carried out by terrorist organizations.”
It particularly denounced the abductions of “civilians employed by Arab and foreign companies that are involved in the reconstruction of Iraq and employees of international and humanitarian organizations providing aid to the Iraqi people and of officials of diplomatic missions and journalists.”
The ministers also censured the US-led multinational force in Iraq for carrying out operations that endanger innocent lives.
They “condemned the aerial bombardments and other military operations that target Iraqi civilians in the various towns and villages and result in the deaths of many innocent people” and demanded an end to them.
US Actions Condemned as iImmoral Crimes'”
They also “strongly condemned the inhuman and immoral crimes and practices committed by occupation soldiers against Iraqis, especially in prisons and detention centers,” saying they represented “a flagrant violation of human rights and international charters and treaties.”
The statement urged Arab states to end their isolation of Iraq that began with deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait.
It “reaffirmed the importance of Arab presence in Iraq, including restoring diplomatic relations with Iraq at its normal level in support of efforts being exerted by the interim Iraqi government in this field.”
The text also called on Arab nations to “offer help to the Iraqi government in the field of training Iraqis in various fields, including training the police, armed forces and providing them with the necessary equipment.”
It urged “the Arab League, in cooperation and coordination with the United Nations, to provide all forms of assistance to Iraq in the different fields, especially in the political process and reconstruction in Iraq.”
Mauritania’s Bilal said “Arab states are concerned about Iraq and want to help it overcome this crisis.”
Earlier, ministers adopted a resolution supporting Lebanon’s right to exercise its own choice, implicitly referring to the diplomatic flap over Syria’s political domination of its smaller neighbor.
The league supported “Lebanon’s right to exercise it’s internal political choices,” according to Syrian and Lebanese diplomats, taking a swipe at international accusations that Syria has too much say in the country’s political destiny.
Syria maintains several thousands of troops in Lebanon, a holdover from a larger contingent sent in during the 1975-1990 civil war.
The ministers also discussed the situation in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.
They “renewed solidarity with Sudan and reject all attempts to divide the country” and expressed “rejection of military intervention in Darfur and sanctions” against Sudan.
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