Thursday, April 18, 2024

Syrian president meets senior Arab lawmakers in Damascus

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has met with a delegation from the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, which is in Damascus to discuss restoration of Syria’s membership in the Arab League after more than a decade of suspension from the bloc.

The meeting took place after the heads of the Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, Libyan, Egyptian and Emirati parliaments as well as representatives from Oman and Lebanon arrived at Damascus International Airport on Sunday.

“The delegation’s visit to Syria today means a lot to the Syrian people as it indicates the support to the Syrians … who are exposed as a result of the terrorist war and the repercussions of the earthquake,” Assad was quoted by Syria’s official SANA news agency as saying.

“The visit also affirms that there are effective Arab institutions capable of taking the initiative in various circumstances and moving in the interest of the Arab peoples,” he added, appreciating the Arab countries’ rapid response to help the Syrian people in the devastating earthquake.

Stressing that the strength of popular institutions comes from the fact that they represent the different spectrums and forms of society, Assad stated, “This diversity is an opportunity for dialogue and searching for common points of strength to be the basis for joint Arab action.”

Members of the delegation, for their part, expressed their readiness to provide all possible support for the Syrian people to overcome the seismic ordeal, saying, “Syria has never stopped serving the causes of the Arab peoples, considering that the Syrian people are able to overcome the effects of the earthquake just as they were able to confront the war and the blockade imposed on the country.”

The disastrous earthquake hit Turkey and neighboring Syria earlier this month, killing more than 50,000 in both countries, according to the latest figures which are updated daily.

The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, citing an alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria has denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

Syria was one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945. In recent months, an increasing number of countries and political parties have called for the reversal of its suspension from the Arab League.

Also on Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Damascus in what is the first visit by a top Egyptian envoy to Syria since the war began in 2011 and another sign of possible warming ties between Assad and Arab states.

Shoukry was received at Damascus airport by his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad on Monday.

Earlier this month, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke with Assad by phone for the first time on February 7.

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