Iraqi diplomat: Arab summit will be held as scheduled

The 23rd Arab League summit will go ahead as scheduled on 29 March in Baghdad, Iraq's permanent delegate to the Arab League Qais al-Azzawi announced on Monday.

Iraqi parliamentarians had called for the postponement of the summit due to protests sweeping several Arab countries.

In a statement given at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo, al-Azzawi said all preparatory meetings for the summit will be held at the Cairo headquarters except the Arab League Council meeting which will be held at ministerial level in Baghdad on 28 March.

The Iraqi government–which has earmarked US$300 million for summit preparations–considers holding the summit in Iraq as a sign of the political stability and security of a country which still sees violence and bombings on an almost daily basis.

Some observers say the situation in Iraq will not receive much attention at the summit, which will likely focus on recent developments in Egypt and Tunisia.

Arab diplomats said that several Arab countries reject holding the summit in Iraq, citing the US presence in Iraq, poor relations with the Iraqi leadership, and the lack of security in the country.

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