Security was tight in Lima as Peru prepared to welcome dignitaries for a third summit between South American nations and Arab countries.

Some 10,000 police officers on Friday were on "maximum alert" to provide security for the two-day summit, which starts Monday, said National Police chief General Raul Salazar.

The first Summit of South American and Arab Countries, or ASPA, was held in 2005 in Brasilia, with the most recent hosted in Doha in March 2009.

The third meeting had originally been scheduled for February 13-16, 2011 -- just as Egypt's then-president Hosni Mubarak was facing a wave of protests that led to his downfall.

The forum brings together 22 Arab countries and 12 South American nations on the initiative of former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

More than 2,000 visitors, including heads of state and captains of industry, are expected to arrive in Lima in the coming days for the summit.

Participants include Jordan's King Abdullah II -- who arrived early for a few days of tourism ahead of the event -- Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and the presidents of Tunisia and Lebanon.

The presidents of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Paraguay will also participate. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is in a tight re-election race, will be absent, but his country will be represented by Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.

The government of President Ollanta Humala declared Monday and Tuesday national holidays to help cope with the influx of visitors.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]