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Iraq calls for Syria’s rejoining Arab League after years of exclusion

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'afari (Photo by AFP)

The Iraqi foreign minister has called on the Arab League (AL) to end its suspension of Syria’s membership in the 22-member pan-Arab body, stressing that Arabs should reach a consensus on resolving the Syria crisis.

Speaking in an address to a meeting of AL foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Tuesday, Ibrahim al-Ja’afari said that Syria’s absence from the Arab League could not be tolerated anymore.

AL does not only represent Arab governments, but also Arab nations and thus should bring an end to the Syria conflict, Ja’afari added in remarks broadcast live on state-run Iraqi TV.

Any weakening of an Arab country is tantamount to the weakening of all Arabs, he said, emphasizing that if Arabs cannot unite on Syria, they can at least agree on settling the crisis there.

AL suspended Syria's membership in November 2011, citing alleged Damascus’s crackdown on opposition protests. Syria's envoy to the group denounced the move as "illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

The photo shows a general view of Arab foreign ministers and delegation members attending the annual meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, March 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Iraqi diplomat condemned Turkey's military presence in his country, saying Arab states should exert more pressure for a Turkish pull-out.

In December 2015, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by about two dozen tanks, to the Bashiqa military camp near the city of Mosul in an alleged bid to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish forces in the fight against Daesh terrorists.

However, Baghdad has repeatedly asked Ankara to withdraw its forces from the region and described the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq as an infringement of its sovereignty.

Syria crisis could be resolved in peaceful manner: Baghdad

Separately on Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Jamal told a press conference that Iraq’s call for Syria’s return to the AL comes in line with Baghdad’s conviction that the turmoil in Syria could be resolved peacefully.

He further underlined the need for ridding Syria of terrorists, who have endangered the country’s security and stability.

Some Arab countries have agreed to Syria’s return to the Arab League and Baghdad tries to garner others’ support in that regard, Jamal pointed out.

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