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DATE=1/23/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-244567 TITLE=ARAB LEAGUE/PREVIEW (L) BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: (EDS: ACTUALITIES OF THE IRAQI, SYRIAN AND YEMENI FOREIGN MINISTERS ARE BEING FED TO AUDIO SERVICES. SOME LANGUAGE SERVICES MAY WANT TO INSERT THE YEMEMI OFFICIAL'S ACTUALITY BEFORE THE FINAL GRAF OF THE PIECE.) INTRO: ARAB FOREIGN MINISTERS ARE ARRIVING IN EGYPT AND HAVE BEGUN DISCUSSING THE IRAQI CRISIS IN PREPARATION FOR A MEETING SUNDAY OF FOREIGN MINISTERS AT THE ARAB LEAGUE. V-O-A MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT SCOTT BOBB REPORTS FROM CAIRO THAT IRAQ'S FOREIGN MINISTER IS CALLING FOR A STRONG ARAB POSITION ON THE CRISIS. TEXT: IRAQ'S FOREIGN MINISTER, MOHAMMED SAEED AL SAHAF, MET SATURDAY WITH ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY-GENERAL ESMAT ABDEL-MEGUID AND INDICATED HIS GOVERNMENT INTENDS TO CONTINUE TO PRESS THE HARDLINE STANCE THAT HAS MADE IT DIFFICULT FOR ARAB STATES TO UNITE ON A POSITION ON THE IRAQI CRISIS. ////AL-SAHAAF ACT (ARABIC) AND FADE/// THE IRAQI OFFICIAL SAID HE HOPES ARAB FOREIGN MINISTERS WILL CONDEMN THE U-S AND BRITISH AIR ATTACKS. HE ADDED HE HOPES THE ARAB LEADERS WILL ADOPT A POSITION TO LIFT THE EMBARGO ON IRAQ, WHICH HE SAID HAS BEEN UNJUSTLY APPLIED FOR EIGHT YEARS, AND THAT THEY WILL BACK IRAQ IN ITS DISPUTE WITH THE U-N SECURITY COUNCIL. IRAQI OFFICIALS THIS PAST WEEK INDICATED IRAQ WILL REJECT ANYTHING LESS THAN A COMPLETE, UNCONDITIONAL END TO THE SANCTIONS AND A STRONG CONDEMNATION OF LAST MONTH'S AIR ATTACKS. THIS POLICY HAS PUT MANY MODERATE ARAB GOVERNMENTS AND U-S ALLIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN AN AWKWARD POSITION. THEY ARE UNDER POPULAR PRESSURE TO FORGE A COMMON ARAB RESPONSE TO THE IRAQI CRISIS, BUT ARE RELUCTANT TO CONDEMN INTERNATIONAL ACTIONS, WHICH MANY OF THEM HAVE SUPPORTED. THESE DIFFERENCE HAVE LED TO SPECULATION THAT THE FOREIGN MINISTERS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DRAFT A SUBSTANTIVE COMMON POSITION AND WILL NOT FIND THE COMMON GROUND NECESSARY TO CONVENE AN ARAB SUMMIT. /// OPT /// THE LAST SUMMIT WAS HELD NEARLY THREE YEARS AGO, FOLLOWING ELECTION OF ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENYAMIN NETANYAHU. /// END OPT /// /// OPT /// SYRIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER, FAROUQ AL-SHARAA, WHO HAS PLAYED A LARGE ROLE IN PREPARING SUNDAY'S MEETING, TOLD REPORTERS THIS IS AN IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ARAB STATES TO ADDRESS WHAT HE CALLED THE DANGEROUS DEVELOPMENTS IN THE ARAB WORLD. ///AL-SHARAA ACT. (ARABIC) FADE/// THE SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAID DELEGATES MUST MAKE SURE SUNDAY'S MEETING IS A SUCCESS, IN ORDER TO PROHIBIT MILITARY ACTIVITY SUCH AS EXPERIENCED BY IRAQ AND TO LIFT THE TRADE EMBARGO ON IRAQ. YEMEN'S FOREIGN MINISTER, ABDELKADER AL-BAJAMAL, ALSO MET SATURDAY WITH THE ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY AND FOLLOWING HIS MEETING, EXPRESSED OPTIMISM OVER THE UPCOMING MEETING. /// END OPT /// THE MEETING IS DUE TO OPEN MID-DAY SUNDAY WITH SPEECHES BY THE SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER AND THE ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY-GENERAL. DELEGATES SUBSEQUENTLY ARE TO MOVE INTO CLOSED SESSION TO HAMMER OUT (DRAFT) THEIR JOINT STATEMENT. (SIGNED) NEB/SB/DW/GE 23-Jan-99 1:19 PM EST (1819 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .