Syria seat to remain vacant at Arab Summit
By Mustafa Youssef, Friday, March 21, 2014
KUWAIT CITY – Syria's seat at the upcoming Arab summit will be vacant despite the attendance of Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba, Ahmed Bin Helli, deputy head of the Arab League, said Friday.
Speaking after a preparatory summit meeting in Kuwait City, Bin Helli said Jarba would deliver a speech at the summit – scheduled for March 25 and 26 – as a legitimate representative of Syria.
Bin Helli added, however, that after the summit Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi would continue to discuss the issue of whether to allow a Syrian opposition coalition to formally represent Syria at the Cairo-based pan-Arab body.
Earlier this month, Jarba met with al-Arabi in Cairo where he renewed his request to serve as Syria's Arab League representative, a coalition source had told Anadolu Agency earlier.
At a meeting in Doha last March, Arab foreign ministers agreed to grant the coalition Syria's Arab League seat once it had established a formal structure. The move, however, was met with serious reservations on the part of Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon.
The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in late 2011, after a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad escalated into an armed insurrection following a violent government crackdown.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around 146,000 people have been killed in the violence-wracked country since the conflict began.
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