Report: Tensions Surge over Inviting Libya to Beirut Summit
The debate in Lebanon intensified over the Arab Economic and Social Development summit scheduled in Beirut on January 19-20, due to the opposition of Speaker Nabih Berri to Libya's invitation and his calls to postpone the summit because of Syria’s lack of participation, media reports said on Saturday.
Asharq al-Awsat said some have interpreted Berri's position as “a message to the Syrian regime after relations between the two have witnessed some estrangement.”
The country’s presidency has affirmed that the summit is going to be held on time, as Speaker Nabih Berri’s office countered claims that he had been notified of the status of Libya’s and Syria’s attendance.
Deputies and ministers of AMAL Movement and Hizbullah are “likely to boycott the summit,” according to the daily.
Meanwhile, Assistant Arab League Secretary-General Hossam Zaki told reporters upon his arrival at Beirut's airport on Friday that “the summit will be held on time. The (Lebanese) political tensions are domestic and do not concern the Arab League. The League is concerned with the organization of the summit and we are here to coordinate the arrangements with the Lebanese authorities.”
Presidency sources of President Michel Aoun said that preparations for the summit are ongoing and that “no request had been received from the Arab League or any country to postpone it. Invitations were sent to the participants.”
Tensions have surged in Lebanon in recent weeks between parties who want Damascus to be invited to the summit and others who reject its participation.
Controversy has also arisen over the invitation of Libya in connection with the case of Imam Moussa al-Sadr, a revered Shiite cleric who disappeared in 1978 while on an official visit to the country.