Arab Summit convenes in Damascus amid regional rifts, boycotts and debt [Archives:2008/1142/Front Page]

March 31 2008

Sarah Wolff
SANA'A, March 30 ) The Arab League summit began on Saturday without Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's participation. Saleh declined – like 10 other Arab heads of state- to attend the annual conference held in Damascus, Syria.

Some observers speculate that Saleh and his 10 counterparts decided against attending the summit in solidarity with Saudi Arabia, which is highly critical of Syria's role in Lebanese politics. Instead, Vice President Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi went in his place, meeting with representatives from Oman and Qatar, as well as with Palestinian Fatah party leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

One of the summit's main topics was furthering the recent “Yemeni Initiative