Washington bows to Saudi-Syrian terms for Arab League ministers attendance of Annapolis conference and calm transition in Lebanon

The Bush administration has also promised a follow-up Middle East conference in Moscow next January to be devoted to the Syrian and Lebanese issues. Sunday morning, the first of 40 delegations arrived in Washington. Damascus finally announced its participation Sunday afternoon.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni set out Saturday night. Defense minister Ehud Barak took a separate flight. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian delegation arrived straight from Morocco. Israel and the Palestinians were unable to agree on joint declaration for the conference, which opens Tuesday Nov. 27, in the small historic town in Maryland.
Olmert said he welcomes Syria’s participation and will also agree to peace negotiations with Damascus “when the circumstances are right.”
Saudi foreign minister Saud al Faisal said Friday, after the Arab League approved its attendance: “We are not going for handshakes or a display of emotions… We are there only to reach a peace which safeguards Arab interests and safeguards the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands.”
debkafile‘s Middle East sources report: The Arab League thus accepted Syria’s new demand for land from Israel to include territory, the Shaaba Farms and Ghajar Village, which was previously part of Syria, but later claimed by Hizballah for Lebanon as the pretext for continuing its war on Israel.
This demand reopens the UN Security Council’s resolution of 2000, which determined the final Lebanese-Israeli borderline by the common consent of both governments and international endorsement.
By this package of concessions, Washington bought a calm transition of power in Beirut, where pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud left the palace quietly Friday night, Nov. 24, without a successor. The parliamentary vote for a new president was postponed until Nov. 30 – three days after the Annapolis Middle East conference opens and closes – for a week of haggling over a consensual candidate.
Hamas is planning a “counter-conference” in Gaza on Monday along with a special effort to mount anti-Israel terror operations. Palestinian protests are being planned for the day of the Annapolis talks which the radicals brand as treason.

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