World Bulletin/News Desk
A meeting of Arab foreign ministers kicked off Sunday in Kuwait to discuss the agenda for the looming Arab summit, scheduled to kick off on March 25, in the Gulf nation.
"[This year's] meeting of Arab foreign ministers comes as the Arab region is going through critical times," Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sabah Khaled Al Sabah, who will be chairing the two-day meeting, said in his keynote speech at the opening session.
"The expectations set for the summit have contributed to drafting the items on the agenda, which will include issues of shared Arab concerns amid rapidly developing regional and international circumstances."
The Kuwaiti minister reiterated his call to the Syrian regime to "stop the attacks on civilians and the indiscriminate use of weapons; lifting the siege of blockaded cities; allow safe exit for civilians and the transfer of humanitarian aid."
Other keynote speeches mainly tackled the Syrian crisis and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi said the Arab region is facing "increasing dangers and challenges," expressing hope that the preparatory meeting would set the stage for resolutions that would "be up to these challenges."
Al-Arabi went on to say that the priorities for the summit's proposed agenda include the Palestinian cause, the Syrian crisis – which entered its fourth year amid an international diplomacy deadlock - , a previous proposal by Bahrain to establish an Arab court for human rights and the prospects for overhauling the Arab League.
Khalid al-Attiyah, Qatar's Foreign Minister, renewed his country's full support of any solution that would "salvage Syria" from the throes of civil war and avoid foreign interference.
The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in late 2011, after a peaceful uprising against President Bashar al-Assad escalated into an armed insurrection following a violent government crackdown.
Ahmed Bin Helli, deputy head of the Arab League, said Friday that Syria's seat at the upcoming Arab summit will be vacant despite the attendance of Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba.
Bin Helli, however, said Jarba would deliver a speech at the summit – scheduled for March 25 and 26 – as a legitimate representative of Syria.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around 146,000 people have been killed in the violence-wracked country since the conflict began.
The meeting, which comes in the run-up to an upcoming Arab Summit due later this month, would touch on the progress of U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, which deadline would expire by the end of April, the source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Anadolu Agency.
The top diplomats would also discuss boosting financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, he noted.
Direct US-brokered peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed in Washington last summer after a nearly three-year hiatus.
During a visit to the region in January, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a "framework" for an eventual peace deal that would address so-called "final-status issues," including borders, security, Palestinian refugees and Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).
Last Mod: 23 Mart 2014, 13:33