Syria gets more support for Arab League return


Syria gets more support for Arab League return
UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri with Mohammed Al Hashimi, representative of the UAE foreign minister, at the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut.

Beirut - "Syria is the most notable absentee at our conference, and we feel the weight of its absence," Lebanon's foreign minister, Gibran Bassil said.


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Published: Fri 18 Jan 2019, 10:54 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jan 2019, 8:22 AM

Lebanon's foreign minister on Friday called for the Arab League to readmit Syria ahead of a regional economic summit in Beirut, more than seven years after it suspended Damascus' membership.
"Syria is the most notable absentee at our conference, and we feel the weight of its absence," Gibran Bassil said.
"Syria should be among us... without us having to wait for a permission for it to return," he added at a meeting with other ministers from Arab League nations.
The Arab League suspended Syria in November 2011, as the death toll rose in the regime's brutal repression of anti-government protests.
But in recent years, President Bashar Al Assad's forces have gained the military upper hand against rebels and militants, and efforts to bring his government back into the Arab fold appear underway.
In December, Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir made the first visit by any Arab leader to the Syrian capital since 2011, and the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus after closing it in 2012.
On Thursday, the head of the Arab League, Ahmed Abul Gheit, said member states have not reached a consensus on Syria's return to the 22-member bloc.
"When there is an Arab consensus, and when we are sure there is no objection from one side or the other, it will be as simple as putting it on the agenda of a meeting" of Arab foreign ministers, he said.
The presidents of Somalia and Mauritania are expected to attend the Arab Economic Summit on Sunday.
The conference is set to discuss the digital economy, as well as a long-suggested project for an Arab free trade zone.
Lebanon also hopes to put forward an initiative calling on countries in the region to help spread the burden of 1.5 million refugees living on its soil.

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