Other gulf stories on A2, A3 and A4.CAIRO, Egypt (UPI) - Iraq joined 20 other Arab countries Saturday for the first full Arab League meeting since Baghdad invaded Kuwait last August, but the gathering quickly fell apart when it became clear "wounds had not healed."
Iraqi opposition groups based in Egypt and Syria had protested Iraq's participation, calling on the Arab League to recognize the opposition and demand President Saddam Hussein's government step aside.But the meeting was in session only about an hour before it was suspended indefinitely. Jordan called for the suspension to allow for consultations to arrange a meeting of Arab foreign ministers on political issues.
"Wounds had not healed yet," said Egypt's ambassador to the Arab League, Mahmoud Abu Al Nasr. "Suspension of the meeting gives a chance for the Arab States to try to bandage these wounds."
The chief of the Iraqi delegation to the meeting, Saad Qassim Hamoudi, told reporters, "The meeting was a positive step after the split in Arab relations."
Hamoudi, director of Arab Affairs at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, also took the opportunity to reiterate Baghdad's opposition to a U.S.-proposed draft resolution expected to be approved by the U.N. Security Council for a permanent cease-fire in the Persian Gulf.
"Iraq considers the Security Council resolution unjust because it harms its interest and aimed at destroying its might," Hamoudi said of the proposed resolution, which among other demands calls on Iraq to destroy its chemical and biological weapons, and ballistic missile systems.
Hours before the meeting began, more than 100 anti-Saddam Iraqis demonstrated in front of Arab League headquarters in Cairo. One placard carried by protesters said, "No for the (Arab League) representative of the Killer Saddam Hussein, and long live the struggle of the Iraqi people."
Acting Arab League Secretary General Assad al Assad told the representatives the full participation showed Arab determination to heal the rift.