Mubarak stays away from mini-summit in Libya to shun Assad

Government officials say Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak will stay away from an Arab mini-summit in Libya to avoid an encounter with Syria's president. The mini-summit in Tripoli on Tuesday was initiated by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to work out an Arab response to a French proposal to set up a European, Middle Eastern and North African strategic bloc. The officials say Mubarak has dodged the summit to avoid a reconciliation with Sryia's Bashar Assad. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the media. Relations between Egypt and Syrian have been strained since the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.