This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency SPA on May 17, 2023 shows delegates attending the Arab Foreign Ministers Preparatory Meeting ahead of the 32nd Arab League Summit in Jeddah. AFP
Saudi Arabia assumed the presidency of the upcoming Arab Summit from Algeria during the meeting.
The foreign ministers reviewed a draft agenda for the summit, which brings together the heads of Arab states to discuss a number of issues pertinent to a pan-Arab agenda.
The heads of Arab states are expected to discuss the ongoing mediation efforts to end the conflict in Sudan and the latest developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict including serious Israeli violations in Jerusalem, among other issues.
Syria: ‘Welcome back’
The preparatory ministerial meeting was attended Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and Information Minister Butrus Halaq.
It is the first such participation of a Syrian delegation in a high-level Arab foreign ministers meeting after the Arab League welcomed Syria back into the Arab fold on 7 May ending a 12-year-suspension.
In statements to the press upon his arrival in the Red Sea coastal city, the Syrian foreign minister said: “We are happy to be in Saudi Arabia and we hope the summit will be successful.”
“The AL summit will discuss joint Arab action and we are looking forward to the future,” Mekdad added.
According to diplomatic sources who spoke to Ahram Online, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is expected to attend the summit in Jeddah per an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
Speaking in the ministerial meeting, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan also welcomed Syria’s return to the Arab fold and called for cooperation between Arab countries to achieve security, stability and economic prosperity.
Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf also welcomed Syria’s return to the AL.
“The world is witnessing major transformations, which require a joint Arab stance to keep up with them,” Attaf noted.
The Algerian foreign minister also called for doubling Arab efforts to establish a Palestinian state.
"We seek Palestine's full membership in the United Nations," he added.