Arab League to meet on Syrian situation

Updated: 2011-12-12 09:27


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CAIRO - The Arab League (AL) will hold emergency meetings on Saturday to discuss the Syrian situation, Egypt's official MENA news agency said on Sunday.

There will be first a meeting of the AL ministerial committee in charge of handling the Syrian crisis and then another of foreign ministers, the agency quoted an Arab diplomat as saying.

The meetings will discuss the Arab response to Syria's recent positive stance toward the AL's observer proposal, after the pan- Arab body decided to slap sanctions against Syria.

On November 27, the AL, which officially suspended Syria's membership on November 16, decided to immediately impose sanctions against Syria, as the violence-hit country failed to sign a protocol over the visit of an AL observer mission. The measures included a travel ban on senior Syrian officials, a ban on flights between Syria and other Arab countries, and a suspension of transactions with the Syrian Central Bank and the Syrian government.

In a message sent to AL chief Nabil al-Arabi earlier this week, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Syria would welcome observers' monitoring, but proposed some minor amendments that would not affect the protocol's essence.

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the minor amendments included that the protocol should be signed in Damascus, and that all the decisions and sanctions against Syria should be annulled once the two sides signed the protocol.

Syria has blamed armed thugs paid by the West and their backers in some Arab countries for fueling sectarian rivalries in the country that has a complex mosaic of sects and ethnicities.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently said about 1,100 members of the armed forces were killed during the unrest which started in March, while the United Nations put the number of the upheaval's victims at 4,000.

The AL has said it insists on solving the Syrian crisis within the Arab framework and demanded the Syrian government sign the observer mission deal.