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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, May 25, 2018

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Arab summit opens in Kuwait with calls to end Syria conflict

Syrian civil war and Egyptian strife topped the discussions

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KUWAIT CITY - Syrian civil war and Egyptian strife topped the discussions at the 22-nation Arab League annual summit that began in Kuwait City Tuesday.

According to media reports, Syria's opposition called for "sophisticated" arms while Saudi Arabia stressed the need for a change in military balance to "end the impasse" in the war-torn nation.

UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi speaking at the summit insisted on a "political solution" to the three-year Syrian conflict that has left over 140,000 people dead and forced millions of people to flee their homes and the country.

Brahimi urged an "end to the supply of arms to all parties". "I call upon Europe, the United Nations and the United States to take clear steps to reactivate the Geneva talks," which broke off on February 15, he said.

"There is no military solution," stressed the joint envoy of UN and Arab nations. Opposition Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmed Jarba repeated calls on the international community to supply rebels with "sophisticated weapons" as the two-day summit opened.

"I do not ask you for a declaration of war," said Jarba, urging Arab leaders to put pressure on the international community to comply with pledges to supply arms.

Syria's seat remained vacant during the summit, with Jarba, head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, saying a resolution would benefit Assad. "Leaving Syria's seat empty sends a message to al-Assad...'kill, kill, (and) the seat is waiting for you once the battle is settled'," Jarba told the summit.AFP reported that Saudi Arabia accused the world community of betraying Syrian people by failing to arm opposition fighters and leaving them as "easy prey". 

Saudi Arabia is a key backer of the Syrian rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad. Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, called upon Arab nations to overcome regional rifts for an all-inclusive joint action to end conflicts in the region.

"The dangers around us are enormous and we will not move towards joint Arab action without our unity and without casting aside our differences," said Sheikh Sabah, the summit host. He however did not name any country.

As related to Egypt, the Reuters wire news service said, the participants were divided over Qatar's support for the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in the largest Arab country. Egypt has traditionally been the Arab League's leading country.

The summit follows an unusual dispute within the Gulf Cooperation Council alliance of Gulf Arab states over Qatari support for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and a spat between Iraq and Saudi Arabia over violence in Iraq's Anbar province. 

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