Arab Foreign Ministers to Meet on Syria After League Visit Delayed

Arab League chief's visit to Syria postponed following request from Syria; Arab governments first out spoke against violence of Assad regime at League meeting in Cairo last week.

Arab foreign ministers will meet in Cairo next week to discuss Syria after a visit by the Arab League chief to Damascus to convey concerns over its crackdown on popular unrest was delayed, Arab diplomats saidon Wednesday.

Arab governments broke months of silence at a meeting at the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo last week, demanding Syria stop the bloodshed, and decided to send League chief Nabil Elaraby to Damascus to push for political and economic reform.

Arab league Secretary general Nabil Elaraby - AP

One Arab diplomat had said Wednesday's visit was postponed, not cancelled, and would take place "when conditions permit."

Egypt's state news agency said the delay followed a request from Syria, but said Damascus did not give an explanation.

"The situation in Syria will top the discussions in the coming ministerial meeting after the delay to the visit of the Arab League Secretary-General to Syria," said a senior Arab diplomat at the League, who asked not to be named.

A League official confirmed the meeting was on September 13.
The senior diplomat said there was no plan to suspend Syria's membership in the Arab League, as happened to Libya in February after forces loyal to the now deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi attacked protesters.

"No one is thinking till now about freezing Syrian membership in the Arab League because every Arab state is keen on stability in Syria. All that Arab foreign ministers asked in the last meeting was to speed up the pace of reforms and stop the violence," he said.

Another diplomat at the League said the meeting would discuss Syria, Palestinian issues and Somalia. The senior Arab diplomat said the situation between Sudan and the newly independent south and Libya would also be on the agenda.