Image Credit: Reuters

Lebanon's top leaders will not attend this month's Arab summit in Libya in a move seen as a diplomatic snub to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Instead of sending the president or prime minister, Lebanon will be represented by its ambassador to Cairo for the summit in Libya. Lebanon's Cabinet endorsed the decision late on Wednesday.

The annual Arab League summit is frequently plagued by no-shows, often because of personal disputes among leaders. Beirut's decades-old dispute with Tripoli stems from the 1978 disappearance of a top Lebanese Shiite cleric who was last seen in Libya.

Libya has consistently denied responsibility, claiming the cleric and his companions left Tripoli for Italy. However, the Lebanese judiciary indicted Gaddafi and six other Libyans for the cleric's abduction.

A report in the Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star on March 3 said Libya had reportedly threatened to expel Lebanese nationals working there if Beirut decided to boycott the Arab League summit.

Around 20,000 Lebanese live in Libya and their expulsion would result in disastrous effects for the Lebanese economy and for its relations with Libya.