The Syrian President heads his country’s delegation to the Arab summit in Jeddah

The Syrian President heads his country’s delegation to the Arab summit in Jeddah
The Syrian President heads his country’s delegation to the Arab summit in Jeddah

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad confirmed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be heading his country’s delegation to the Arab Summit to be held in Jeddah, in an exclusive statement to Sky News Arabia.

On Wednesday, the Arab foreign ministers held a preparatory meeting for the Arab summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, prior to the annual summit of the Arab League in the Kingdom, to discuss the agenda for the next meeting and draft resolutions.

This year’s summit, which begins on Friday in the city of Jeddah, will mark war-torn Syria’s return to the 22-member Arab League, after its membership was suspended for 12 years.

Syria’s membership was frozen in the wake of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on mass protests in 2011 against his rule. The country quickly descended into a brutal civil war that left nearly half a million people dead and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Wednesday that the region is at a crossroads and faces a set of challenges. He called for cooperation among Arab countries to achieve security, stability and economic prosperity.

Bin Farhan also welcomed the return of Syria, as well as the Secretary-General of the League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and the Algerian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Ataf.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad held bilateral meetings this week in the kingdom with several of his counterparts as Damascus continues to seek much-needed investment in the war-torn country – crippled by conflict and Western sanctions – and moves to restore ties with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.

Syria’s return to the Arab ranks comes as Damascus is also trying to improve relations with Turkey, the main backer of Syrian armed opposition groups in the country’s northwest.

However, a few Arab countries are still upset about Syria’s return to the League, led by Qatar.

The Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, said on Wednesday that his country opposes the return of Syria, but does not want to stand “against the Arab consensus.” He added that each Arab country can, separately, normalize relations with Syria.

For this to happen, Sheikh Mohammed added, from Qatar’s point of view, Syria needs a “just and comprehensive solution” to its conflict.

The summit also comes at a time when Arab governments are striving to resolve the conflict in Sudan between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the opposing paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo Hemedti. Fighting in the east African country, which broke out in mid-April, has killed more than 600 people and displaced tens of thousands.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Algeria called for a cease-fire in Sudan and an end to the escalating violence in the Palestinian territories.