Arab League: Syria’s presence in meetings ahead of Jeddah summit ‘a new phase’ in Arab world

The Arab League has welcomed Syria’s readmission to the 22-member organization, saying the presence of Damascus in ongoing meetings in the Saudi port city of Jeddah ushers in a new era in the Arab world.

Hossam Zaki, the assistant secretary general of the Arab League, made the statement ahead of the second consecutive day of the Arab Economic and Social Council meetings attended by the member states’ representatives and senior officials in Jeddah on Tuesday.

“I gave a speech today on behalf of the secretary-general of the Arab League, in which we welcomed the presence of Syria, which paves the way for a new phase of the Arab situation and benefits all societies,” Zaki said.

“We are keen, through these meetings, to ensure that the discussed topics are of interest to Arab citizens and their reality,” he added. “We have not yet achieved economic integration at the highest level, but there are good steps we have taken to achieve this integration.”

The second preparatory meeting of the Arab summit, scheduled to be held in Jeddah on May 19, started on Tuesday with the participation of Syria’s delegation chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan.

The meetings of the Arab Economic and Social Council are discussing ways to enhance joint Arab action to achieve sustainable development, and other social and economic issues of concern to Arab countries.

“We again welcome the presence of Syrian delegation at these meetings,” Hamid Chabeira, the Algerian ambassador in Cairo and permanent representative in the Arab League, said in a speech, stressing the need for unity and solidarity among the Arab countries.

The undersecretary of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs for International Affairs, Abdul Rahman al-Rasi, also welcomed the presence of the Syrian delegation in the meetings, wishing them success.

“Saudi Arabia extended its hand to the brothers due to its belief in the importance of joint Arab action,” he said, adding, “We will continue to work to follow up this issue and resume the process of the Arab League.”

Arab government representatives in Cairo voted on May 7 to return Syria to the Arab League after a 12-year suspension, with all 13 of the 22 member states attending the session endorsing the decision.

The Arab League suspended the membership of Syria, one of its founding members, in November 2011, at the start of foreign-backed militancy in the country. Syria denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

Riyadh and Damascus agreed in March to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies after more than a decade, prompting other Arab countries to race for the re-establishment of ties with Syria.

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