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http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=2309890 UAE Proposes Saddam Exile at Summit to Avert War Sat March 1, 2003 10:11 AM ET By Edmund Blair and Esmat Salaheddin SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates proposed on Saturday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his top aides should go into exile as Arab leaders held crisis talks in Egypt on ways to avert war. It was the first time an Arab state had officially called on Iraq's leadership to step down and leave Iraq, a solution which Washington has said could spare the volatile region another war. Arab states had so far publicly rejected such ideas as meddling in Iraq's internal affairs. Saddam has said he would rather die than go into exile. Some Arab officials expressed surprise that the proposal was presented formally, rather than behind closed doors, suggesting a summit in the public glare was not the appropriate forum for such a sensitive debate. While many Arabs would be glad to see the back of Saddam, calling on a fellow leader to resign and accept exile is highly controversial. Some Arabs fear it could set a dangerous precedent in a region where leaders have few democratic credentials. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the UAE's idea would be discussed comprehensively at the summit, which aims to find a peaceful solution to the crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. "We are sure that the United Arab Emirates under the leadership of (President) Sheikh Zaid (bin Sultan al-Nahayan) will not issue anything that is not in the Arab interest," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told reporters on the sidelines of the summit in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. CONTROVERSIAL IDEA Palestinian International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath said it would be "very disruptive of the whole Arab process" if the summit began taking decisions on countries' leaders. One Arab official asked: "Is the UAE going to accept any Arab leaders saying Sheikh Zaid should step down?" Another delegate said the proposal violated the Arab League charter, which says members must respect each other's systems of government and abstain from actions calculated to change them. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency and who is at the summit, said Arabs had to discuss the idea before the EU would react. "But certainly we will support any initiative which will be very clear and possibly crucial to get full compliance" with U.N. resolutions requiring Iraq to disarm, he added. The UAE's proposal suggested offering the Iraqi leadership "all suitable privileges to leave (Iraq) within two weeks after accepting the Arab initiative." It said Iraq's leaders should get internationally binding guarantees that they would not be prosecuted "in any form," and called for a general amnesty for all Iraqis at home and abroad. It said the Arab League, in cooperation with the U.N., should supervise the situation in Iraq for a transitional period. It was not clear whether any of the leaders would comment publicly about the proposal at the summit. In addition to their concerns of a possible domino effect, Arab leaders are keen to show their policies are not dictated by foreign powers such as Washington, which some Arabs believe considers "regime change" in Iraq only the first step toward a wider regional shake-up. At the same time, analysts note that Arab states might call for Saddam's exile knowing full well he will probably reject the idea, arguing that Arabs could thereby show their citizens they had considered all options to avert a war. Arab public opinion is firmly opposed to war against Iraq, and Middle East leaders are fully aware of potential instability at home if rising numbers of local protests get out of control. Several Arab states, such as Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, host U.S. forces and may be springboards for a war. Saudi Arabia has also been home to U.S. forces since the 1991 Gulf war. __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Tax Center - forms, calculators, tips, more http://taxes.yahoo.com/ _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk