Baghdad: Taking a break from asking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, Arab leaders have arrived in Baghdad for its first major regional summit in a generation.
   
With 100,000 security forces standing guard in the Iraqi capital, officials took unprecedented measures to prevent attacks by closing off a large swathe of the city's roads and mobile phone networks, and shutting down its airport and surrounding airspace to commercial traffic.
   
And with country having suffered deadly violence just last week, only one attack has been reported since Tuesday's meeting of economy and finance ministers, a low figure by Baghdad's often brutal standards.
   
Six visiting Arab leaders as well as UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad on Thursday for the summit, which regional officials have pushed to focus on a wide variety of issues, ranging from the Arab-Israeli conflict to jumpstarting economy of the area.
   
The focus, however, has been on Syria, and officials say Arab leaders will stop short of calling for Assad's ouster.
   
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari's confirmed on Wednesday evening that the summit of the 22-member Arab League will steer clear of the strong moves advocated by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to resolve the Syria crisis.
   
The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed in a bloody crackdown by Syrian forces on a year-long revolt.   

"The Arab League initiative is clear and did not demand that Bashar step down, Zebari said after a ministerial meeting. "We (Foreign Ministers) also did not ask for that and the upcoming decision will not go in this direction."
   
It "is up to the people of Syria to decide, to choose, to elect their leaders. It's not up to the League or to anybody else," he said.
   
When asked whether the arming of Syrian rebels was raised, Zebari said: "We did not discuss this subject at all.

(JPN/Agencies)