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Syria urges dialogue, joint action to face challenges after returning to Arab League

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a view of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates building in the capital, Damascus.

Syria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has welcomed a decision by the Arab League to bring Damascus back to its fold, stressing the importance of dialogue and joint action to confront the challenges facing the Arab world.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the ministry said Syria welcomed the decision issued during the extraordinary session of the Council of the League of Arab States regarding the resumption of the Syrian delegations' participation in the meetings of the League and all its affiliated organizations and agencies, Syria's official SANA news agency reported.

"Syria stresses in the same context the importance of dialogue and joint action to confront the challenges facing Arab countries," it added.

The ministry reaffirmed Syria's commitment to strengthening joint Arab work and cooperation, emphasizing that the next stage requires an effective and constructive approach at the bilateral and collective levels based on dialogue, mutual respect and common interests.

Arab League formally brings Syria back into its fold: Spokesman

Earlier on Sunday, a spokesperson for the Arab League said foreign ministers of the 22-member intergovernmental organization of Arab states adopted a decision to reinstate Syria’s membership after its suspension 12 years ago.

The decision, which will consolidate a regional push to normalize ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the country could immediately resume its participation in meetings of Arab League and all its organizations and agencies.

It also called for a resolution of the crisis resulting from Syria's conflict, including the flight of refugees to neighboring states and drug smuggling across the region.

Gamal Roshdy, the spokesman for the Arab League's secretary general, said the decision was taken at a closed meeting of foreign ministers at the body's headquarters in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

Assad can attend Arab League summit 'if he wishes to'

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Sunday that President Assad can attend an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia later this month "if he wishes to."

Responding to a question over whether Assad could participate in the summit, Aboul Gheit told a news conference in Cairo, "If he wishes, because Syria, starting from this evening, is a full member of the Arab League, and from tomorrow morning they have the right to occupy any seat."

"When the invitation is sent by the hosting country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and if he wishes to participate, he will participate," he added.

Some Arab states including the United Arab Emirates pushed for Syria's readmission, but others such as Qatar remained largely opposed to full normalization without a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

Some Arab countries also stressed the importance of setting conditions for Syria's return. Last week, Jordan's foreign minister said that the Arab League's reacceptance of Syria would only be the start of "a very long and difficult and challenging process."

The Arab foreign ministers on Sunday said that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and the Arab League's Secretary General would form a ministerial contact group to liaise with the Syrian government and seek "step-by-step" solutions to the crisis.

Practical steps would also include efforts to facilitate the delivery of aid in Syria.

Since March 2011, Syria has been gripped by a campaign of militancy and destruction sponsored by the US and its allies.

In recent years, however, Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have managed to win back control of almost all regions from terrorist groups.

The Arab League suspended the membership of Syria - one of the organization's founding members - in November 2011, citing an alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

In recent months, an increasing number of countries and political parties have called for the reversal of Syria’s suspension from the Arab League.

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