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Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety Four - 18 May 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety Four - 18 May 2023 - Page 3

Arab League welcomes Syria back into bloc

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit welcomed Syria back into the bloc on Wednesday, as Arab foreign ministers gathered for a preparatory meeting ahead of the full summit.
Earlier this month, the Arab world’s top diplomats agreed to fully reinstate Syria’s membership after a 12-year suspension over what they called the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters.
President Bashar al-Assad is set to attend the summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, where he will likely rub shoulders with Arab presidents and kings who for years sought to weaken him.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad is already in Jeddah to attend the preparatory meetings and has held talks with his Jordanian, Emirati and Lebanese counterparts among others.
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib said he had spoken to Mekdad about the return of refugees and curbing drug smuggling in the region, two issues that have been key to Arab countries’ negotiations with Syria in recent months.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Wednesday that the region is at a crossroads, facing a host of challenges. He called for cooperation between Arab countries to achieve security, stability and economic prosperity.
Bin Farhan also welcomed Syria’s return, as did the league’s Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf.
Damascus continues to appeal for much-needed investment in the war-torn country — crippled by the conflict and Western sanctions — and has moved to restore ties with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq.
After the meeting, Mekdad told reporters he hopes Arab governments will help with reconstruction and Syrian refugee returns.
Syria’s return to the Arab fold comes as Damascus is also trying to amend ties with Turkey, a key backer of the armed Syrian militants in the country’s northwest.
But a few Arab countries remain sceptical of Syria’s return to the league, primarily Qatar.
Qatar’s top diplomat, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said Wednesday that his country opposes Syria’s return but that it doesn’t want to stand “against the Arab consensus”. Each Arab country, however, can unilaterally normalize relations with Syria, he said.
For that to happen from Qatar’s perspective, Syria needs to go “through a just and comprehensive solution” to its conflict, Sheikh Mohammed added.


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