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Arab League opens summit

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Arab League opens summit

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The 17th Arab League summit is underway in Algiers, with talks dominated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Its members are expected to endorse an abridged version of their 2002 initiative, which offers Israel normal relations in exchange for withdrawal to pre-1967 borders. Israel has called the plan a “non-starter”. League Secretary General Amr Moussa says it “offers a collective peace with and normalisation of relations with Israel in return for the recovery of Arab rights”. “There should be real return, and commitment, and when we reach a balanced peace, closing the files on the conflict, we’ll be established side by side, when there’s a full withdrawal establishing a Palestinian state”, he added. Thirteen heads of state have turned up for the summit. It is not expected to produce a formal common position on Lebanon and Syria, although Egypt is pushing for political sovereignty to be mentioned in a line in the final communiqué. Foreign guests include French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Spanish leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. “There is no idea that justifies terror, no idea can justify blind murder, no idea, even legitimate. It can only complicate conflicts and make finding solutions more difficult,” said the Spanish leader. Other business on the agenda includes structural changes to the League to allow it to admit parliamentarians and non-governmental organisations.