Moderate leaders at the Arab summit appeared Tuesday to have persuaded hard-liners to take a "balanced and prudent" approach to the United States, under fire for its support of Israel, conference sources said.
But despite their reported acquiescence, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein made belicose speeches against the United States and Israel at Monday's opening session of the two-day summit.In another development, a senior PLO official said Hussein and President Hashemi Rafsanjani of Iran could meet in the next few weeks to formally end the Persian Gulf war, which was halted by a cease-fire in 1988.
The conference sources said that as the heads of state met for a second day Tuesday, moderates headed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia seemed to gain ground, despite often heated debates over taking Washington to task.
The conference was called as a show of Arab unity against what Saddam Hussein has said is a Western and Israeli campaign against Iraq. It was also sought ways to stem the large-scale emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel.
The Arab leaders met behind closed doors in Baghdad's heavily guarded conference center today. Sources said they were to complete a memorandum on issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict that will be sent to the U.S.-Soviet summit, which convenes in Washington on Thursday.
Many Arabs have been angered by the United States' policy regarding the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel - expected to reach 750,000 over the next years. They say Washington has driven away many from the United States by tightening American immigration restrictions.
Arabs states contend Israel plans to settle many of the Soviet Jews in the Israeli-held West Bank and Gaza Strip, land the Palestinians declared part of a Palestinian state in 1988.
The Arabs also say Washington has not done enough to pressure Israel into agreeing to peace talks with Arafat.