News

DATE=1/24/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-244598 TITLE=ARAB LEAGUE / IRAQ (L) BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: IRAQ HAS WALKED OUT OF THE ARAB LEAGUE FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING IN CAIRO. CORRESPONDENT SCOTT BOBB REPORTS FROM THE EGYPTIAN CAPITAL THAT THE DELEGATION LEFT IN PROTEST OVER A FINAL STATEMENT THAT CALLED ON IRAQ TO CEASE PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST ITS NEIGHBORS. TEXT: IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHAF TOLD REPORTERS HIS DELEGATION LEFT THE ARAB LEAGUE MEETING BECAUSE THERE WERE UNBALANCED IDEAS IN ITS FINAL STATEMENT. HE SAID IRAQ COULD NOT ACCEPT WHAT HE CALLED A MEETING WHICH CONSPIRES AGAINST IRAQ AND GIVES THE U-S AND BRITISH GOVERNMENTS A PRETEXT FOR NEW ATTACKS. THE IRAQI OFFICIAL ACCUSED SEVERAL ARAB GOVERNMENTS -- INCLUDING EGYPT, SYRIA, SAUDI ARABIA AND KUWAIT -- OF INFLUENCING THE FINAL COMMUNIQUE SO THAT, RATHER THAN CONDEMN THE ATTACKS AGAINST IRAQ, IT BLAMED IRAQ FOR THE ATTACKS. MANY ARAB GOVERNMENTS HAVE EXPRESSED SYMPATHY OVER THE SUFFERING OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE BECAUSE OF U-N SANCTIONS AND WESTERN AIR STRIKES. HOWEVER, SOME SAY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR PLIGHT LIES WITH THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT. THE ARAB FOREIGN MINISTERS MET ALL DAY SUNDAY TRYING TO FORGE A COMMON POSITION ON THE IRAQI CRISIS. THEIR FINAL STATEMENT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER LAST MONTH'S U-S AND BRITISH AIR STRIKES AND URGES ARAB LEADERS TO WORK TO LIFT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAQ. IN EXCHANGE, THE DOCUMENT CALLS ON IRAQ TO CEASE AGGRESSIVE ACTIONS AGAINST ITS NEIGHBORS AND RECOGNIZE EXISTING BORDERS IN THE REGION. THE IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER BEFORE THE MEETING WARNED HIS DELEGATION WOULD ACCEPT NOTHING LESS THAN A CONDEMNATION OF THE AIR STRIKES AND AN UNCONDITIONAL END TO THE SANCTIONS. THE IRAQI WALKOUT COMES AMID REPORTS THAT IRAQ IS REINFORCING TROOPS IN SOUTHERN IRAQ. NEWS AGENCIES QUOTE THE MILITARY COMMANDER IN THE SOUTHERN CITY OF BASRA AS SAYING AIR DEFENSES ARE BEING REINFORCED IN ORDER TO PROTECT IRAQ FROM ANY NEW AIR STRIKES. THE OFFICER DENIED IRAQ HAS ANY INTENTION OF USING THE FORCES AGAINST NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES. IN ADDITION, U-S WARPLANES PATROLLING THE NO-FLY ZONE IN SOUTHERN IRAQ TWICE FIRED ON GROUND-BASED, IRAQI AIR DEFENSES SUNDAY AFTER THEY WERE TARGETED BY IRAQI RADAR. (SIGNED) NEB/SB/JO 24-Jan-99 2:38 PM EST (1938 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .