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Syria's return to Arab League not on agenda of Arab summit: spokesman

Monday March 25, 2019

Syria was a founding member of the Arab League (AFP Photo/Ahmad ABDO)

CAIRO (Xinhua) -- The resumption of Syria's suspended membership in the Arab League (AL) is not on the agenda of the Arab summit scheduled for the end of March in Tunisia, the pan-Arab body said Sunday.

"Until now, the topic of Syria's return to the AL is not on the agenda and it was not officially proposed by any party," said Mahmoud Afifi, AL spokesman, in a statement.

"But the Syrian crisis is on the agenda," he added.

According to the spokesman, the AL summit in Tunisia has about 20 topics on the agenda, including the Palestinian cause, the chaos in Libya and Yemen and the support of peace and development in Sudan.

The summit will also discuss "Iran's intervention in the affairs of Arab states," support for Somalia, counterterrorism and the development of Arab national security system.

Syria's AL membership was suspended in late 2011 in response to the Syrian government's crackdown on protests.

In mid-March, Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali urged the AL to reconsider "its wrong decision" of suspending Syria's membership, adding that the decision was made "under pressure by the United States and Europe."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in January that it is necessary for the Syrian government to take a number of measures toward a political settlement to return to the Cairo-based league.

Later in the month, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said there was positive momentum among Arab countries toward Syria's return to the AL during the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit held in Lebanon's capital Beirut.

Following the 2011 anti-government mass protests, the situation in Syria developed into a civil war of confrontations between pro-government forces and armed rebels and terrorists from the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are backed by Russia, Iran and Shiite militias loyal to Iran including Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Since its eruption in March 2011, the Syrian crisis has killed half a million, and wounded or displaced more than 14 million others.


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