Arab foreign ministers discuss Syria crisis at Saudi meeting


Cairo (Reuters) – Gulf Arab foreign ministers and their counterparts from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan discussed Syria’s possible return to the Arab fold at a meeting in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The meeting, held in the city of Jeddah, was called by Saudi Arabia, amid a recent thaw in regional tensions, but ended without agreement, the statement said.

Some Arab states, including regional heavyweights Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, have mended ties with Damascus, in contrast to 2011 when many Western and Arab states boycotted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his brutal crackdown on protests.

However, Syria’s broader normalisation with the Arab world remains a sensitive issue for several countries.

Earlier this week, Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said the original basis for the 2011 suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League still stands.

Jordan said ahead of a meeting it was pushing a joint Arab peace plan that could end the devastating consequences of the over decade old Syrian conflict, according to a source close to the matter.

Hundreds of thousands of people died in the war, which drew in numerous foreign powers and splintered the country.

Abu Dhabi and Oman also received Assad as normalisation gathered momentum elsewhere in the region following a devastating quake that hit Turkey and Syria.

Regional superpower Saudi Arabia, which has long resisted normalisation with Assad, said after a rapprochement with Iran, Syria’s key regional ally, a new approach was needed with Damascus.

Both countries agreed to reopen embassies soon.

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