That Colonel Gaddafi might willingly abandon his secret weapons programme - and be lavished with praise by western leaders - was as improbable an idea to most Arabs as the image of a defeated Saddam Hussein being pulled from a hole in the ground. The message conveyed to renegade nations after the surprise announcement by the Libyan leader was clear: come into the fold and you will be lavished with praise. Continue to resist, and you will be dealt with harshly. 'Leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations,' US President George W. Bush said. 'With the announcement by its leader, Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations.' Neither Mr Bush nor British Prime Minister Tony Blair needed to mention the fate of former Iraqi leader Hussein, now awaiting trial at an undisclosed location for crimes against humanity. Analysts say the message will be heard loudly in Arab nations like Syria, which faces US sanctions for its alleged support of terrorism, for the development of chemical and biological arms and for possessing medium- and long-range missiles. The US accuses Syria of allowing armed fighters to enter Iraq, and of hosting anti-Israeli groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Other Arab nations have joined the chorus urging compromise over conflict in the brewing US-Syria standoff. Analysts say the Libyan case may offer a model. 'Egypt has said several times that dialogue is the only chance of solving the problems between states,' Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said. 'As for the threats and the imposition of sanctions, they are never a way to resolve problems.' Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said: 'Syria does not consider the United States its enemy despite numerous differences.' But he added that 'biased' US policy towards Israel stymied any hopes for a broader relationship with Washington. Many Arab nations have complained that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction unfairly targets Muslim nations. Israel has never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but is widely believed to have a nuclear weapons programme. Neither has it come under scrutiny by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, which has taken the lead in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Iran. 'This constitutes a serious threat to the security and stability of the whole region,' Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said. For many Arabs, this issue of inconsistency is central to resistance to reform in the Muslim world that is being led by the United States government.