Arab League chief to visit Beirut for talks on Syria’s return to bloc
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Arab League chief to visit Beirut for talks on Syria’s return to bloc

The 76-year-old diplomat will arrive in Beirut next Monday, and will hold talks about the new national unity government in Lebanon as well as mutual issues of interests, including Syria’s return to the Arab League, with Lebanese authorities, Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Joumhouria daily newspaper reported on Friday. Earlier this week, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said his country will eventually return to the Arab League, stressing that the Damascus government will never surrender to blackmail or accept conditions for the restoration of its membership to the regional organization. “Those who are trying to ignore Syria or to impose conditions for its return to the Arab League will not succeed, since Syria will not surrender to blackmail and is not primarily concerned with anything other than its domestic problems,” Mekdad said. He added that certain anti-Syria decisions are being made by some Arab states on the instructions of extra-regional powers. “We monitor all developments concerning Syria's return to the Arab League and the reopening of diplomatic missions in Damascus. Nevertheless, the pressures that we are facing at regional and international levels pose serious challenges to this process,” the senior Syrian official pointed out. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in November 2011, citing alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria denounced the move as "illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.” On January 26, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui called on the Arab League to restore Syria’s membership, saying the “natural place” of the country is within the 22-member regional organization. “Syria is an Arab state, and its natural place is within the Arab League,” Jhinaoui said during a news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Tunis. “The question of Syria returning to the Arab League does not depend on Tunisia but on the Arab League,” he noted, adding, “The foreign ministers (of member states) will decide on this subject.” Tunisia is scheduled to host the 30th annual summit of the Arab League in March. The issue of possible restoration of Syria’s membership to the Arab League comes especially after a recent move by some Arab countries to re-open their embassies in Damascus. Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on December 28, 2018 that work at the kingdom’s embassy “in the Syrian Arab Republic was going on whilst the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Kingdom of Bahrain was carrying out its duties and flights connecting the two countries were operational without interruption.” This came a day after the United Arab Emirates officially reopened its embassy in Damascus. The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the reopening of its embassy “reaffirms the keenness of the United Arab Emirates to restore relations between the two friendly countries to their normal course.” The move “will strengthen and activate the Arab role in supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to prevent the dangers of regional interference in Syrian Arab affairs,” the ministry stated.

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