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Arab League presser called off due to disagreements on Syria

Scheduled Arab League press conference is cancelled after Arab foreign ministers fail to reach consensus on GCC proposal to recognise Syrian opposition

Dina Ezzat, Sunday 12 Feb 2012
Arab ministerial meeting
Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Althani attends the Arab League Syria Group and foreign ministers meeting in Cairo, Egypt Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. The Sudanese head of the Arab League observer mission to Syria resigned Sunday, hours before foreign ministers began to consider a proposal to send a new mission to the country including U.N. monitors, according to officials. (Photo: AP)

A press conference scheduled to follow a day of intensive Arab League meetings on Syria was cancelled on Sunday evening due to a lack of consensus among league member states on a proposal by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to recognise the opposition Syrian Transitional Council (STC) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, informed sources told Al-Ahram Online.

The lack of league support for the GCC proposal reportedly prompted Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hammed Ben Jassim to cancel the scheduled conference, with the consent of Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi.

Arab foreign ministers did, however, adopt a resolution on Sunday calling for the establishment of a joint Arab League-UN peacekeeping mission in Syria, to be backed by a UN Security Council resolution. Arab ministers also called for support to be provided to the Syrian opposition and for relief operations to be conducted by Arab and international organisations with a view to providing immediate assistance to Syrian civilians.

The resolution fell short, however, of acknowledging demands by a Syrian opposition delegation – which took part in some of Sunday's ministerial meetings – to lend direct financial and military support to the Free Syria Army. The same demand was voiced by dozens of anti-regime demonstrators who gathered outside Cairo's Marriott Hotel, which hosted the minister's meeting.  

Arab foreign ministers also failed to agree on a draft resolution to be presented to the UN Security Council on a proposed peacekeeping mission in Syria.

In the end, the Arab League resolution called for lending "political and financial support" to the Syrian opposition groups that are scheduled to take part in an upcoming Syria conference in Tunis.

Lebanon, Syria's immediate neighbour, the government of which is closely associated with Damascus, expressed reservations about the final resolution. Algeria, for its part, voiced its own reservations about a specific clause in the resolution calling on Syria to open its air space to Arab and international relief agencies.

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