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Syria war, peace talks top Arab League summit agenda

English.news.cn   2014-03-26 02:42:06

By Zhang Yue

KUWAIT CITY, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Arab leaders wrapped up the first day of the 25th Arab League summit on Tuesday, highlighting regional issues, especially the conflict in Syria and peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kuwait's Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah inaugurated the opening ceremony, urging for closer ties between Arab states. " This summit was held in difficult circumstances regionally and internationally. So it's very important to stand united and coordinate our policy for the sake of regional prosperity and security," he said.

He also added that the conflict in Syria, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions, is a humanitarian, moral and legal crisis, emphasizing that the spill- over of the violence has negative effects on neighboring countries including Jordan and Lebanon.

Amir Sabah called on the United Nation Security Council to find a rapid end to the Syrian civil war, adding "We feel the pain of the Syrians, and we'll exert efforts to help them."

Syria's seat at this summit was vacant because the government's membership has been suspended since 2011. However, the leader of the opposition Syria National Council (SNC) Ahmad al-Jarba was invited to address the summit.

"Keeping Syria's seat empty sends a clear message to Assad. The seat will wait for him to resolve the war," al-Jarba said in his speech to Arab leaders.

Al-Jarba urged international community to provide more heavy weapons and humanitarian support to the rebels.

"The international community should commit to its pledge to provide heavy weapons to our revolutionary (militia), and increase humanitarian support in all its components to Syrians," he said, adding that "I do not ask for a declaration of war. I do ask for your support to our cause and finding a solution guaranteeing the interests of our people and our country."

SNC's spokesman Louay Safi urged Arab states to form committees to find a political solution for the crisis. He added these committees should not be aligned with Syrian President Bashar al- Assad's administration or the opposition, but be focused on the best interests of all Syrians.

According to United Nation's reports, the civil war in Syria has killed more than 140,000 people and displaced 5.5 million children. Millions of refugees have fled to neighboring countries, causing a strain on resources. The humanitarian situation in Syria has worsened despite attempts at the peace conference in Geneva, Switzerland to find a resolution. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian issue was another priority topic addressed during the summit. Amir Sabah said Israel should stop its settlements building, calling it a "hostile policy," adding that "peace can only be achieved if Palestinians can create an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the conference but did not address the summit directly.

The summit also addressed the growing tensions between Gulf countries since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain which withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar earlier this month, an unprecedented move within the history of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The trio accused Qatar of intervening in the other countries' internal affairs and has garnered intense media interest.

The summit also discussed other issues including terrorism, economic cooperation and the security situation in Lebanon and the political transition in Egypt.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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