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Arab League to boycott Labour conference over Corbyn snub

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's opposition Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn as he speaks during Prime Mininster's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London, in this September 13, 2017 photo. (AFP)
LONDON: Arab ambassadors canceled a reception at next week’s Labour party conference after claiming that Saudi and Sudanese representatives were barred from attending.
The row comes just days before Labour party members gather in Brighton.
In a letter sent to all UK MPs on Thursday, The League of Arab States said: “Unfortunately, the Council of Arab Ambassadors has taken the decision to cancel its annual reception and buffet dinner and boycott the Labour Party conference this year, due to the rejection of the application of both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Sudan to attend the conference.”
The reception is an annual event and is usually hosted by the Council of Arab Ambassadors, including all Arab ambassadors in the UK.
The Arab Ambassadors meet regularly to discuss Arab-British relations.
A Labour spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Arab News that its national executive committee had refused to accept the Saudi Embassy’s application to attend the event because of the country’s military campaign in Yemen.
But there was confusion over whether Sudan had applied to attend the event. While the Arab League claimed Sudan’s application was rejected, Labour said it was not received.
The Embassy of Sudan was not immediately available for comment.
However, an embassy spokesman was quoted by Al-Hayat saying: “The Labour Party decision is part of a clear pattern of double standards and the Arab decision was taken unanimously.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is known for his hostile stance toward Saudi Arabia, has publicly called for the UK to stop selling arms to the Kingdom, most recently in an interview with the BBC on Sept. 11.
He told the World At One that the UK should stop supplying weapons that are being used in the war in Yemen.
“We are selling arms to Saudi Arabia — and at the same time we are sending aid in, we should not be doing both,” he said.
He added it was it was important to ensure there was “a political process to bring about a cease-fire”.
Labour’s annual conference — which is expected to be its biggest ever — is being held from Sept. 24 over four days at the Brighton Center.

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