Arab League urges 'serious dialogue' in Syria

AFP , Monday 8 Aug 2011

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi calls for steps to be taken to pave the way for the desired political change in Syria

Head of Arab League Nabil al-Arabi (Photo:Reuters)

The head of the 22-member Arab League on Monday urged Syrian authorities to launch a "serious dialogue" with protesters seeking change in the autocratic country.
"What is happening in Syria worries the Arab League and all countries," Nabil El-Arabi told reporters.

"We hope that it (Syria) will be able to overcome (the crisis) by peaceful means and by launching a serious dialogue towards the reconciliation that the people have been demanding," he said.

Arabi made his remarks a day after calling on the Syrian authorities to "immediately" stop the violence that has rocked the country since mid-March, when protesters first took to the streets to demand greater freedoms.

"When people take to the streets... and seek change, presidents and governments must reach that solution through dialogue without making use of violence or force," he told reporters on Monday.

Asked what measures could be taken to end the violence in Syria, where human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed in the crackdown on dissent, he said: "Do not expect drastic measures, expect step by step persuasion."

But Arabi also quickly added: "There is no action to expect from the Arab League."

On Sunday the pan-Arab organisation issued a statement quoting Arabi as saying that he "calls on the Syrian authorities to bring an end immediately to acts of violence and campaigns by the security forces against civilians."

He also called for an "impartial probe" into the violence, in the first official statement issued by the Arab League since the protests began.

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