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Arab League ministers meeting set to address Syria and Sudan crises

Arab League to consider Syria and Sudan developments at Thursday conference, no major outcome expected

Dina Ezzat , Thursday 26 Apr 2012
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Arab League headquarters, Cairo, Egypt (Photo: Reuters)
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Arab foreign ministers are expected to meet in Cairo at around 5pm Thursday to discuss developments in Syria and on the borders between Sudan and South Sudan.

The Arab ministerial meeting comes against the backdrop of continued bloodshed in Syria. It also comes in view of the escalating confrontation between the two Sudans.

"The meeting will review a collective Arab assessment of the situation in Syria in view not just of the developments on the ground which we deem to be very disturbing but also in view of the (Kofi) Annan (the UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria) report," said an Arab League source.

According to the source, the Arab League ministerial meeting this afternoon – which is expected to last at least four hours – will voice support, in general terms, to the assessment of Annan and to his plan to send a peacekeeping force to Syria and work on a political arrangement with the Assad regime and with opposition forces inside and outside Syria

"What the Arab League is hoping to do is to get the Arab countries to agree on the finance and agenda of a Syria opposition group conference to be hosted around mid-May here at the headquarters of the Arab League (in Cairo)," said the source.

There was "overall tentative support for the idea," the source added.

Meanwhile, the Arab League ministerial meeting is not expected to take a position in favour of its member state Sudan against neighbouring South Sudan in a situation some fear could escalate into a wide military confrontation or worse – a war.

"We are not asking the Arab League to side with us against South Sudan; there is no such thing on the agenda," said a Cairo-based Sudanese diplomat.

Speaking to Ahram Online on the eve of the ministerial meeting, the Sudanese diplomat said that his country's delegation would brief the Arab League member states about the developments on the borders with South Sudan and demand support for a negotiated settlement on the basis of mutual respect between the two countries. "We cannot accept aggression but we don’t want to go to war," the diplomat said.

The Arab League ministerial meeting is expected, according to Arab League diplomats, to call on both the north and south to settle their differences through negotiations and to refrain from any escalation.  

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