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Public rifts at Arab summit likely to satisfy Iran and Syria

By Sylvia Westall and Amena Bakr KUWAIT (Reuters) - Arab leaders at odds over supporting Islamists in upheavals across the Middle East have proved in no mood to reconcile at a summit this week, an outcome likely to satisfy Syria and Iran in their rivalry with regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Heads of state assembled in Kuwait publicly acknowledged they needed to end quarrels that are exacerbating an already catastrophic war in Syria as well as turmoil in Egypt and Iraq.

Kuwait summit merely papers over Arab rifts

By Sylvia Westall and Amena Bakr KUWAIT (Reuters) - Arab leaders, at loggerheads over inter-Arab issues including Egypt and Syria, offered little evidence of progress after a two-day summit in Kuwait focused largely on avoiding further splits. Gulf opposition to Qatar's financial backing for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist rebels in Syria burst into the open last month when Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain followed suit.

Arab summit refuses to recognise Israel as 'Jewish state'

Arab leaders fully back a Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, an Israeli demand that threatens to derail peace talks, a joint statement said on Wednesday. "We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state," said the final declaration of the two-day Arab summit in Kuwait. oh-lyn/bpz

Arab summit refuses to recognise Israel as 'Jewish state'

Arab leaders fully back a Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, a flashpoint issue which is threatening to derail the US-led peace talks, a final Arab summit statement said Wednesday. "We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state," said the declaration, issued at the end of the two-day meeting in Kuwait City.

European parliament MP says Qatar to improve labor laws

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar has promised to improve its labor laws, a member of the European parliament visiting the Gulf Arab state said, after persistent criticism from human rights group over its treatment of workers. Pressure on Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup, grew after Britain's Guardian newspaper reported in September that dozens of Nepali construction workers had died and that laborers were not given enough food and water. Qatari and Nepali officials denied the report.

Kerry to meet Palestinian leader Abbas in Amman Wednesday

US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Amman Wednesday, interrupting a visit to Italy to meet with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on peace talks with Israel, a US spokeswoman said. Kerry's trip aims "to continue to narrow the gaps between the parties", spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Tuesday, adding that the US diplomatic chief would also be in touch with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "over the phone or by video conference". jkb/ide/jhb

Egypt calls for activation of Arab anti-terror treaty

Egypt's military-installed interim president Adly Mansour called Tuesday for Arab ministers to meet before the end of June to discuss implementation of an Arab counter-terrorism treaty. Mansour made no specific mention of the Muslim Brotherhood of his ousted predecessor Mohamed Morsi, which Cairo designated a terrorist organisation in December. But he told the annual Arab League summit in Kuwait that it was vital that League members extradite and not give shelter to "terrorists" wanted by fellow member states.

Arab summit struggles to heal rifts, stave off 'enormous' peril

By Sylvia Westall and Amena Bakr KUWAIT (Reuters) - Warning of "enormous" dangers, Kuwait urged fellow Arab leaders on Tuesday to resolve disputes complicating crises such as Syria's war and unrest in Egypt, but diplomats said tensions bubbled behind the scenes at an annual heads of state summit.

Beset by differences, Arab leaders open annual summit

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Arab leaders struggling with an array of foreign policy disputes opened an annual summit on Tuesday to try to forge a common stand on Syria's war and what many of them see as the menace of Iranian-U.S. rapprochement. The gathering in Kuwait follows an unprecedented row among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance of Gulf Arab states over Qatari support for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and a verbal spat between Iraq and Saudi Arabia over violence in Iraq's Anbar province.

Palestinians to lobby UN if prisoners not freed on time

Palestinian leaders on Tuesday threatened to renew their diplomatic push at the United Nations if Israel fails to free Arab prisoners as scheduled this weekend. When US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace resumed in July, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas agreed that for their nine-month duration he would shelve efforts to use the UN's November 2012 recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer to press for membership in international bodies where it could fight Israeli occupation.
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