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Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety Five - 20 May 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety Five - 20 May 2023 - Page 3

Assad gets warm welcome as Syria welcomed back into AL

Syrian president hopes for ‘new phase’ in Arab cooperation

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad voiced hope Friday for a new era of Arab cooperation as his country was welcomed back to the Arab League after more than a decade of suspension.
“I hope that it marks the beginning of a new phase of Arab action for solidarity among us, for peace in our region, development and prosperity instead of war and destruction,” Assad said in a speech to his first Arab summit in 13 years.
The Arab rapprochement with Assad gained momentum after China negotiated an agreement in March that saw Riyadh resume diplomatic ties with Iran.
A flurry of diplomatic activity has been underway in recent weeks after the decision by Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume ties shifted the political landscape.
“We are holding this summit in a turbulent world,” Assad said.
But “hope grows” in the light of the rapprochements between Arab states which “culminate in this summit,” Assad said.
Assad thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “for the great role he played and the intense efforts he exerted to promote reconciliation in our region”.
Assad said Syria would always belong to the Arab world but called for non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab states.
“It is important to leave internal affairs to the country’s people as they are best able to manage their own affairs,” he said.
Crown Prince Mohammed said he hoped Syria’s “return to the Arab League leads to the end of its crisis,” 12 years after Arab states suspended Syria as it descended into a war that has killed more than 350,000 people.
Saudi Arabia would “not allow our region to turn into a field of conflicts”, he said, saying the page had been turned on “painful years of struggle”.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Syria said their embassies will resume work more than a decade after they were closed.
Last month, Assad met in Damascus with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the first such visit since the war broke out in 2011.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, when the country launched a campaign to weed out the most violent militants trickling into the country from around the world.
Saudi Arabia was formerly key backer of armed militant groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government. However, in recent months, Riyadh has called for dialogue to end the conflict that has killed half a million people and displaced half of Syria’s pre-war population.
Washington has objected to any steps towards normalization with Syria, saying there must first be progress towards a political solution to the conflict.
Ahead of the summit, the US State Department reiterated opposition to normalization of relations with Damascus and said sanctions should not be lifted.
“The Americans are dismayed. We (Persian Gulf states) are people living in this region, we’re trying to solve our problems as much as we can with the tools available to us in our hands,” said a Persian Gulf source close to government circles, Reuters reported.


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