Assad’s resignation not proposed on Baghdad summit’s agenda, Araby says

Requesting the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will not be proposed during the Arab summit starting in Baghdad at end of this week, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby has said.

Araby told London-based Al-Hayat newspaper on Sunday that the summit will discuss the deteriorating situation in Syria. He expected a unified stance on the events to result, so the UN Security Council can make a binding decision to halt violence in Syria.

The summit, according to Araby, will also tackle Palestine, Somalia and Yemen, as well as building a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East.

Syria has been swept by series of protests demanding political reform since March 2011. Assad has responded with bloody campaigns that have claimed the lives of over 8,000 civilians, according to UN estimates.

Araby added that while the UN General Assembly has appointed Kofi Annan as Arab League and UN special envoy to Syria, it has been agreed that Nasser al-Qudwa will be a deputy in Baghdad, as during the time of the summit Annan will be busy in Moscow and Peking.

On 10 March, during talks with Assad in Damascus, Annan submitted proposals that included allowing humanitarian organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross inside the country, releasing detainees and launching political dialogue with all parties. But Assad said there will be no dialogue in the presence of what he called “armed terrorist groups” in Syria.

He also expressed hope that many presidents will take part in the summit, especially as some Gulf countries will be represented by their leaders.

In response to a question about the participation of non-Arab countries, Araby said that requests to attend were submitted by 29 countries, including Iran and Turkey, but that he rejected all of them because the summit is only for Arab countries, international and regional organizations.

Araby denied that Iraq’s internal affairs are being proposed as a discussion topic on the summit agenda.

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