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Any resolution of Syria conflict must guarantee its territorial integrity: UN

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, left, and Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit attend a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, March 30, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres has stressed the importance of guaranteeing Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity in any resolution on the conflict in the Arab country.

“Any resolution of the Syrian conflict must guarantee the unity, [and] the territorial integrity of Syria, including the occupied Golan,” he said in an address to an Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on Sunday.

As “millions of Syrians remain displaced and in need, and tens of thousands are arbitrarily detained…we must keep working to forge a political path to a sustainable peace in which all Syrians are heard, grievances are addressed, and needs are met,” he added.

Guterres' remarks came days after US President Donald Trump broke decades of international consensus and formally recognized Israeli "sovereignty" over the occupied Golan Heights, a border area the Tel Aviv regime seized from Syria in 1967.

“This was a long time in the making. Should have taken place decades ago,” Trump said while signing the proclamation in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump's Jewish son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, in the White House in Washington, DC.

However, a Wednesday meeting of the UN Security Council turned into another stage for the isolation of the US, as other countries on the council opposed Trump’s move on Golan.

Addressing the meeting, Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari lashed out at President Trump's recognition, describing the move as part of a “criminal project” aimed at prolonging chaos and destruction in the region.

“This is a criminal project or plan for which the US government and its allies have used all tools at their disposal,” Jaafari said, adding that the plan is aimed at guaranteeing chaos and destruction in the region, and dividing the people of the region on religious and ethnic basis in order to “build a new reality.”

Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over Golan, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

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Elsewhere in his Sunday address, the UN chief said the Middle East faces “turbulent winds” from “the wars in Yemen and Syria,” to “the rise and fall of Daesh” and "the persistent denial of the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people."

"I strongly appeal for the unity of the Arab world as a fundamental condition for peace and prosperity in the region, and to avoid leaving the region vulnerable to interference by foreign parties with destabilizing effects,” Guterres said, calling for a regional vision rooted in cooperation, respect and mutual interest.

He recognized the need to “untangle the Gordian knot of insecurity, allow no space for sectarianism, and deliver the peace, stability and effective, responsive governance that the people of the region deserve.”

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Guterres further pointed to the Stockholm agreement aimed at solving the conflict in Yemen and said, “Following last December’s breakthrough in Stockholm, we continue to work closely with the parties to achieve progress towards the redeployment of forces in Hudaydah and the opening of humanitarian corridors on the way to a political solution for Yemen.”

Back in December, representatives from the Houthi Ansarullah movement and the Riyadh-sponsored government of ex-president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, reached the truce deal during UN-mediated peace talks in Sweden.

Under the deal, they agreed to the withdrawal of their troops and the deployment of UN monitors to the port city, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.

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Aoun: Golan decision threatens Lebanon

Lebanese President Michel Aoun told the Arab League summit that Beirut was threatened by Trump's decision to recognize Israel’s illegal annexation because the Tel Aviv regime was still occupying some Lebanese lands.

“This decision does not only threaten the sovereignty of a brotherly state [Syria], but rather threatens as well the sovereignty of the Lebanese state, which owns lands that were gradually bitten off by Israel,” Aoun said.

“How can we, small countries, feel reassured anymore when international charters and rights are being undermined, and when the international legitimacy which governs the UN-recognized borders between states is being challenged?”

Tel Aviv considers Shebaa Farms part of the occupied Golan while both Damascus and Beirut say the area is Lebanese.

King Salman: Saudi rejects Trump's move

Also speaking at the summit, Saudi King Salman rejected any measures that undermine Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“We reaffirm our absolute rejection of any measures that encroach upon Syrian sovereignty over the Golan, and we stress the importance of reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis that will guarantee Syria's security, unity and sovereignty and prevent foreign intervention.”

Salman said the Riyadh regime still supported the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Mogherini: Ignoring UN resolutions on Golan Heights 'not a solution'

Addressing the Arab League summit, European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said that ignoring United Nations Security Council resolutions on the Golan Heights was "not a solution."

European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini (R), addresses delegates attending the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on March 31, 2019, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres seated next to her. (Photo by AFP)

She also said a two state solution for Israel and Palestine was "the only viable and realistic solution ... we have a responsibility to prevent the two state solution from being irreversibly dismantled."

"Any future plan will have to recognize the internationally agreed parameters including on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, and the status of Jerusalem [al-Quds] as the future capital of the two states," she pointed out.

US trying to sabotage Arab Peace Initiative for Palestine: Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Arab leaders that the Trump administration was going to "destroy" the Arab Peace Initiative by letting Israel annex portions of the West Bank.

“The US will tell Israel, annex part of the Palestinian lands and grant self-rule to what's left of the land, and give the Gaza Strip a state so that Hamas can play there," he said.

“The US administration's decision is to destroy the Arab Peace Plan and constitutes a dramatic change from the positions of previous US administrations,” Abbas continued.

The Arab Peace Initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, calls on Israel to agree to a two-state solution along the 1967 lines and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee issue. The initiative has been repeatedly endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, 2007, and 2017.

Trump ended a two-decade US commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state in February 2017, when he said the two-state solution was only one of Washington's options for resolving the conflict.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like,” he said at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

The Trump administration has been promoting what it refers to as the "deal of the century," which Palestinians say is a collection of tried and failed ideas that ultimately serve Israel's interests.

Arab League summit must send message on Palestinian state: Tunisia

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, for his part, said the Arab League summit in Tunis must send a message on the importance of establishing a Palestinian state.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi (1st R) chairs a session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

He added that regional and international stability should come through "a just and comprehensive settlement that includes the rights of the Palestinian people and leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state with [East] Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital."

Qatari Emir walks out of summit

Meanwhile, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani abruptly left the opening session of the summit without delivering his welcoming remarks, Qatar News Agency reported.

According to the report, the emir headed to the airport and sent a message to Essebsi, thanking him for Tunisia's hospitality during his stay.

The emir is said to have left the summit after Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit lauded Saudi Arabia for its handling of the League's rotating presidency last year.

Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations, including the United Arab Emirates, severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017, after accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, a charge that Qataris have firmly denied as false.

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