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Arab foreign ministers meet on Syria

In a fresh bid to end a nearly year-long crisis in Syria, Arab foreign ministers and their Russian counterpart meet in Cairo-based Arab League headquarter

AFP , Saturday 10 Mar 2012
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby (L) and Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim (C) attend the Arab Foreign Ministers emergency meeting about Syria, at the Arab League Headquarters in Cairo. (Photo/file : Reuters)

Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Syria amid Western and Arab-led efforts to pile pressure on President Bashar Al Assad’s regime.

The Arab League committee on Syria — comprising Egypt, Sudan, Oman, Algeria and Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi — met at the organization's headquarters ahead of a wider meeting of Arab top diplomats and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov, who arrived on Friday, has already met with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, an Arab diplomat said.

The talks at the Arab League come as former UN chief Kofi Annan, who was named United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria, was headed to Damascus for crucial talks with Assad.

The United Nations says that well over 7,500 people have died in the year-long crackdown on dissent that has seen an intensive assault by government forces on protest cities such as Homs.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November.

Russia said on Friday it opposed an “unbalanced” Washington-backed UN draft resolution on Syria because it called on the government only to end violence but did not mention the rebels..

Russia and China have previously blocked two UN initiatives because they singled out Assad for blame.

World powers have been under pressure from Moscow to tone down their condemnation of Assad’s regime.

Russia on Saturday said Lavrov made clear to Annan that Moscow is opposed to “crude interference” from the outside into Syrian internal affairs.

“A particular emphasis was placed on the inadmissibility of trampling on international legal norms, including through crude interference in Syria’s internal affairs,” the foreign ministry said after a meeting earlier between Lavrov and Annan in Cairo.

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