Arab League delays summit by year to March 2012

Arab League delays summit by year to March 2012

Cairo: A summit of Arab leaders has been postponed by a year to March 2012 because of turmoil in the region, but will still be held in Iraq as originally planned, the Arab League said on Thursday.

Mass demonstrations demanding political reforms have toppled the long-time leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and are challenging rulers elsewhere in the region, changing the political map of the Middle East.

The region’s heads of state were supposed to meet in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in March 2011 to discuss the popular unrest.

But Bahrain’s foreign minister has said that Gulf Arab states asked the League to cancel this year’s summit after Iraq, the summit’s host, criticised Bahrain’s crackdown on Shi’ite protesters.

Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa said the new date had been communicated to all Arab League members and there was agreement among them.

Asked about the reason for the delay, Moussa said: “That is upon the formal request of the government of Iraq."

In a statement, the League said that postponing the meeting until next March will “ensure the summit would offer results sufficient for the ambitions of the Arab people for reform".