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Gadhafi mocks Arab summit, saying it is following American orders

CAIRO, Egypt: Libya's Moammar Gadhafi on Tuesday mocked Arab leaders holding a summit this week in Saudi Arabia — a gathering he is boycotting — and said they were merely following American orders.

The flamboyant Gadhafi has angered other Arab leaders with his sharp remarks at past summits. During a 2003 gathering, he traded insults with Saudi King Abdullah on the conference floor — so he had been widely expected to stay away from this year's summit in the Saudi capital.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera television, Gadhafi poured contempt on the summit, due to begin Wednesday. "We feel for them, the poor things," he said of Arab leaders. "We know they are in a position of weakness. They have no power or strength."

He said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was imposing the summit agenda, calling her his "dark African sweetheart."

"We admire her very much and we are very proud of her because she is giving the orders to the Arab leaders," Gadhafi said of Rice, who toured Arab nations the week before the gathering. "Leeza, Leeza ... she brought with her the summit agenda."

Gadhafi wore a white suit with a green badge in the shape of Africa on his chest and sat in front of a giant map of Africa, signaling his country's break with the Arab world and adherence to the African sphere.

He accused the Arab summit of seeking to sow divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and selling out the Palestinians, all on orders from Washington.

Many of the Sunni-led Arab nations at the summit have expressed concerns about the rising power of mainly Shiite Iran. The summit is expected to throw its support behind Iraq's Sunni Arabs, calling on the country's Shiite leadership to rewrite the constitution to give Sunnis more power.

"I am not going to participate in the conspiracy of mobilizing Arabs against the Persians," Gadhafi said. "I am not going to participate in a conspiracy that divides Islam to Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam."

The Libyan leader repeated his proposal that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be settled by creating one democratic state where the two peoples live together, to be called Isratine.

He also lashed out at the Arab peace-for-land initiative, which offers Israel recognition and permanent peace with all Arab countries in return for full Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

"They are also selling the Palestinians in an auction. They're giving the Palestinians a little money as if they were sheep to be fed," Gadhafi said.

Gadhafi and Abdullah — who was crown prince at the time — had a bitter argument in front of television cameras during a summit session in 2003. The next year, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Libya over reports Libya plotted to assassinate Abdullah, who became king in 2005. Libya has denied the accusations.

Gadhafi has not hesitated to mock the summits even when he attends them. Several times, he has lit cigars on the conference floor during speeches to show his contempt.

"The Arab world is on the way to extinction," he said in Tuesday's interview.

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