(AFP) – Mar 30, 2009
DOHA (AFP) — Maverick Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi stole the show at Monday's Arab summit, insulting Saudi King Abdullah before storming out to visit a museum.
But the flamboyant Kadhafi also left the door open for reconciliation with Abdullah, whose Western-backed kingdom is a regional heavyweight and the world's largest oil exporter.
"It has been six years since you have been avoiding a confrontation with me," Kadhafi snapped, just as summit host Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was ending his speech.
"You are always lying and you're facing the grave and you were made by Britain and protected by the United States," Kadhafi told Abdullah in front of 15 other leaders attending the annual gathering.
Tensions have run high between the two countries since articles in US and Saudi newspapers in June 2004 accused Kadhafi of allegedly plotting to assassinate Abdullah, then crown prince.
"I am the leader of the Arab leaders, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of the Muslims," proclaimed Kadhafi, the Arab world's longest serving leader who has been in power since 1969.
Kadhafi, recently elected as African Union chairman, was bestowed with the title "king of kings" by African tribal dignitaries in September 2008.
State-run Qatari television interrupted the feed to the press room, but when the broadcast was restored, Kadhafi was heard telling Abdullah: "I am ready to visit you and for you to visit me."
Libyan state television aired excerpts of Kadhafi's diatribe, and the official JANA news agency published the full text of his vitriolic attack.
"I tell my brother Abdullah, that you have avoided me for six years and you are afraid to confront me," Kadhafi said, according to the Libyan media. "I want to reassure you: there is no need to be afraid.
"I tell you that after six years, it has been proven whose past is a pack of lies and who is facing death," he said, echoing similar remarks by Abdullah at a 2003 Arab summit.
"You are a product of Great Britain and protected by the United States," Kadhafi said, again quoting from Abdullah's 2003 attack on him at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
"Out of respect for the (Arab) nation, I consider the personal problem between us over and I am ready to visit you and to welcome you" to Libya, Kadhafi said, the Libyan state media reported.
The flamboyant Kadhafi, dressed in an ochre robe and cap and wearing black sunglasses, then rose and swept out of the conference centre, with aides saying he was off to visit a museum.
Abdullah also left the conference hall briefly, diplomats said.
The Qatari emir later hosted a meeting to reconcile the two.
"The misunderstanding between Saudi Arabia and Libya has been ended during this summit," Libyan official Ahmad Kadaf al-Dam told reporters.
Kadhafi has a history of unpredictability at such gatherings.
At an Arab summit in 1988 he wore a white glove on his right hand to avoid shaking "bloodstained hands," and the following year he blew smoke from a fat cigar into the face of the late king Fahd of Saudi Arabia.
At the 2005 Arab summit in Algiers he upstaged the final session with an unscheduled address in which he described Israel and the Palestinians as "idiots," leaving his audience in fits of laughter.
One aim of the Doha summit was to reunite Arab ranks divided over Israel's 22-day onslaught on the Gaza Strip.
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