BEIRUT

Middle East

Saudis call for Arab League Syria talks to be put off

  • A general view shows the meeting of the Arab League Foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital Cairo on December 21, 2013. AFP PHOTO / HASSAN MOHAMED

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia has urged the indefinite postponement of an Arab League meeting on Syria that Riyadh itself called, the group's deputy chief Ahmed Ben Helli said on Friday.

The meeting of foreign ministers was originally called for Monday by Riyadh, which backs rebels in the conflict, to discuss "steps that need to be taken to deal with the Syrian tragedy".

But the Saudis have now indefinitely postponed what was originally billed as an emergency gathering that they were going to host without saying why, and no new date has been set for it.

Western and Gulf nations opposed to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad are due to hold their latest meeting in London on May 15 to discuss boosting support for the rebels.

More than 150,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria since the start of the armed uprising against Assad's rule in 2011.

UN- Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said in late March that a resumption of peace talks in Geneva between Damascus and the opposition was currently "out of the question".

In a briefing to the UN Security Council, Brahimi accused Damascus of delaying efforts to resume the negotiations, diplomats in New York said.

Assad's regime is preparing for a presidential election which excludes the exiled opposition taking part, paving the way for his re-election.

The opposition has denounced the controversial June 3 election as a "farce".

 
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