Tunisian FM demands restoration of Syria’s Arab League membership
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Tunisian FM demands restoration of Syria’s Arab League membership

“Syria is an Arab state, and its natural place is within the Arab League,” Jhinaoui said during a news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Tunis on Saturday. “The question of Syria returning to the Arab League does not depend on Tunisia but on the Arab League,” he added. “The foreign ministers (of member states) will decide on this subject,” Jhinaoui said. “What interests us is Syria's stability and security.” Lavrov also called for readmitting Syria in the Arab League. “We would like Tunisia to support the process of Syria’s return to the Arab family and the Arab League,” the top Russian diplomat said. “I believe that Tunis is interested in a quick return of Syrian refugees sheltered in Tunisia,” Lavrov said. “We will do everything to create proper conditions in Syria for that kind of return,” he added. There are around 400 Syrian refugees in Tunisia, according to estimates by the UN refugee agency. Tunisia is scheduled to host the 30th annual summit of the Arab League in March. On January 18, Lebanon’s Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil called on the Arab League to restore Syria’s membership in the organization, describing attempts to block the move as a “historic mistake.” “We, Arab nations, don’t know how to look out for each other. Arab states continue to trade blame for suffering across the region rather than assembling plans to alleviate it,” Bassil said as he opened the first session of an Arab economic summit in Beirut. “Syria should return to us ... Syria should be in our embrace instead of throwing it into the embrace of terrorism," he pointed out. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on January 8 that the current Damascus government needed to implement a number of measures toward a political settlement of the ongoing Syria crisis to be able to reclaim its membership in the Arab League. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita in Cairo, Shoukry said such measures were required "in accordance with … UN Security Council Resolution 2254," which endorses a road map for a peace process in Syria, and sets out the outlines of a nationwide ceasefire. “There's a need to get out of the current crisis in Syria within the political framework sponsored by the UN envoy in Geneva,” the top Egyptian diplomat pointed out. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in November 2011, citing alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria has denounced the move as "illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.” The issue of possible restoration of Syria’s membership to the Arab League comes especially after the latest move by some Arab countries to re-open their embassies in Damascus. Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on December 28, 2018 that work at the kingdom’s embassy “in the Syrian Arab Republic was going on whilst the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Kingdom of Bahrain was carrying out its duties and flights connecting the two countries were operational without interruption.” It came a day after the United Arab Emirates officially reopened its embassy in Damascus. The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the reopening of its embassy “reaffirms the keenness of the United Arab Emirates to restore relations between the two friendly countries to their normal course.” The move “will strengthen and activate the Arab role in supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to prevent the dangers of regional interference in Syrian Arab affairs,” the ministry pointed out. On December 16 last year, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab League leader to visit Damascus. Syria's official news agency SANA said Bashir was greeted by his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, upon arrival at Damascus International Airport, before they both headed to the presidential palace. The two leaders discussed bilateral ties and the "situations and crises faced by many Arab countries," the Syrian presidency said in a statement. SANA quoted the Sudanese leader as saying during the meeting that he hoped Syria would recover its important role in the region as soon as possible. He also affirmed Khartoum’s readiness to provide all it can to support Syria's territorial integrity. Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies have been aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

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