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Mon 25 Feb 2008 03:08 AM

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Mubarak in Saudi talks over Lebanon

Egyptian president meets King Abdullah to discuss ways to solve deep political crisis, media reports.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Sunday on ways to solve Lebanon's deep political crisis, state media reported.

They held talks in Riyadh on "the current crisis in Lebanon and the Arab efforts to solve it," the official SPA news agency said.

SPA added the pair also discussed the "continuing Israeli attacks" on the Palestinian people and the need to preserve the security and territorial integrity of Iraq.

An Arab diplomat in Riyadh told newswire AFP that Jordan's King Abdullah II would also visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for talks on the Arab summit which is due to take place in Syria next month.

Oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia, which hosted the annual summit in 2007, has not yet received a formal invitation from Syria to attend the March 29-30 forum amid tensions between the two countries over Lebanon's presidential crisis.

Lebanon has been without a president since November amid feuding between a majority backed by the West and several Arab states and an opposition supported by Syria and Iran.

"There is a crisis in ties with the Syrian government, with Lebanon the main reason," a Saudi official told AFP, asking not to be named.

"Damascus has not joined in efforts, including the Arab initiative, to elect a consensus president," the official said.

The Arab League plan calls for the election of army chief General Michel Sleiman as consensus president, the formation of a national unity government in which no single party has veto power, and a new electoral law.

Despite agreement on Sleiman, feuding Lebanese politicians have failed to agree on power-sharing in a future government.

Arab analysts and media reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries may boycott the Damascus summit or send low-level delegates.

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