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Fate of Arab League summit in limbo

BAGHDAD, April 15 (UPI) -- A request from states in the Persian Gulf to cancel a Baghdad summit for the Arab League in May is a slap in the face to an emerging player, observers say.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council called on the Arab League to cancel its summit next month in Baghdad. The GCC is upset with Baghdad's criticism of the ruling Sunni minority in Bahrain, Iraqi satellite channel al-Sumaria reports.

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Hamid al-Mutlaq, a lawmaker in the Sunni-backed Iraqiya slate, told Radio Free Iraq the GCC decision was unnecessary at a time when the Arab world is plagued by simmering political unrest.

Iraqiya leader and former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was mentioned as a candidate for Arab League secretary general. Amr Moussa, the current head, announced this year his intention to run for the Egyptian presidency.

David Ranz, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, told Radio Iraq that Washington was supporting Baghdad as the host of the Arab summit.

"Ultimately this is a decision the Arab League will have to make but we do believe that Iraq is playing an increasingly important role in the region," he was quoted as saying.

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Moussa told Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari the Arab League was set to discuss the fate of the summit in the coming days.

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