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Russia calls for Syria's return to Arab League

January 27, 2019 at 1:33 pm

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday called for unfreezing Syria’s membership in the Arab League, two months before the annual Arab summit in Tunisia in March.

“We would like Tunisia to support the process of Syria’s return to the Arab family and the League of Arab States as well,” Lavrov told a joint press conference with his Tunisian counterpart Khamis al-Jahnawi in Tunis and cited by TASS news agency.

Tunisia is scheduled to host the 30th Arab summit in March.

“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.”

There are around 400 Syrian refugees in Tunisia, according to estimates by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Read: Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan to submit proposal for Syria’s return to Arab League

Al-Jahnawi, for his part, said Syria’s return to the Arab League was a decision by the Cairo-based body, which suspended Syria’s membership in 2011.

“The Arab foreign ministers will meet and decide what they want for Syria,” he said. “What Tunisia cares for is the security, stability and national unity of Syria.”

The Arab League froze Syria’s seat in 2011 against the backdrop of Bashar al-Assad regime’s use of force to crush pro-democracy protests in the country.

In recent weeks, there has been increasing Arab calls for normalising ties with the Assad regime, including a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Damascus, and the reopening of United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain embassies in the Syrian capital.

Opinion: The Syria regime’s return to the Arab League is a mistake