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Arab League may have enough votes to bring Syria back after more than a decade

Diplomats from Arab nations are planning an emergency meeting in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo over the weekend about the prospect of Syria’s return to the Arab League, more than a decade after its membership was suspended by the 22-member regional organization.

Gamal Rushdy, a spokesman for the Arab League, said Sunday’s meeting by Arab foreign ministers will focus on restoring Syria’s membership and comes at the request of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

When asked about the vote count, Rushdy said Arab League decisions are resolutions usually made by consensus, but each country has the right to submit its reservations.

Syria to return to Arab League soon: Jordan

A senior diplomatic official also told CNN television news network that if Syria’s membership is approved, the Syrian delegation at the high-level Arab League summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on May 19 is “very likely” to be presided by President Bashar Assad.

Some members of the Arab League, mainly gas-rich Qatar, have opposed Damascus’ return to the organization.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Arabic-language Asharq News television channel, Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said there is a very high chance for restoration of Syria’s membership during the next Arab summit in Saudi Arabia later this month.

Earlier this week, a group of Arab foreign ministers met with their Syrian counterpart in Jordan to discuss how to normalize diplomatic ties with Damascus and bring the country back to the Arab fold.

The Monday meeting was part of a Jordanian proposal to reach a political solution to more-than-a-decade-old conflict.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and his Egyptian and Iraqi counterparts, Sameh Shoukry and Fuad Hussein, traveled to Amman on Monday for the meeting with Syria’s Faisal Mekdad.

Jordan has called on Damascus to engage with Arab states on a roadmap to end the conflict, and tackle such issues as refugees and drug smuggling across the war-ravaged country’s borders.

In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia — which once backed Takfiri militant groups in Syria — has reversed its stance on the Syrian government and is pushing its neighbors to follow suit.

The Saudi foreign minister visited Damascus last month for the first time since the kingdom cut ties with Syria more than a decade ago.

Syria’s foreign minister also visited Cairo and Riyadh in April.

Saudi Arabia to reopen embassy in Syria after more than a decade of closure

Saudi Arabia has said, after its rapprochement with Iran, that a new approach was needed towards Damascus, which is under Western sanctions.

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

Syria was one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945. In recent months, an increasing number of countries and political parties have called for the reversal of its suspension from the Arab League.

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