Sudan and Syria on top of summit agenda as Arab leaders gather in Jeddah
Pinning hope on Arab aspirations of greater unity and integration for the resolution of major crises in the region, Arab heads of state and government started arriving in Jeddah on Thursday to attend the 32nd ordinary session of the Arab League Council.
The crisis in Sudan, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and Syria are on top of the agenda of Friday's summit, which is also witnessing Syria’s return to the 22-member bloc after a hiatus of 12 years.
The leaders who arrived in Jeddah on Thursday included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Paletinian President Mahmoud Abbas, King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, and Chairman of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council Rashad Muhammad Al-Alimi.
The Syrian Presidency announced on Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad is heading for Jeddah to attend the summit. Al-Assad is attending the Arab summit for the first time in 12 years after his country was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict. The Syrian delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, was attending the preparatory meeting of foreign ministers from Wednesday.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has been receiving the high-level Arab delegations who are flocking to Jeddah to take part in the summit.
The Arab foreign ministers resumed the second day of preparatory sessions on Thursday, finalizing the agenda of the summit and making finishing touches to the draft resolutions, prior to their presentation at the summit. They stressed the importance of a ceasefire in Sudan to ensure the safety of its citizens and called for the crisis to be treated as an internal matter.
Saudi Arabia took over the rotating presidency of the Arab League summit as Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf handed over the presidency to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Wednesday.
In his presidential address, Prince Faisal bin Farhan underscored the need for unity among Arab countries in order to overcome common problems and difficulties as well as to confront major global challenges. The foreign minister welcomed the Arab delegations, especially the Syrian delegation. He emphasized that the world is going through "great challenges that warrant us to stand united to confront them".
In his speech, Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit affirmed that the Arab presence is full at the Jeddah summit, while welcoming Syria’s return to the Arab League. Aboul Gheit pointed out that there are positive indications from Iran and Turkey to stop their interference in the affairs of Arab countries.
The Kingdom’s hosting of the Arab summit comes as an extension of the paramount role of the Saudi leadership at the regional and international levels, and strengthening communications with leaders of the Arab countries. The 32nd session of the Arab Summit is being held at a time when the world are going through unprecedented circumstances in terms of regional and international crises and conflicts.
This necessitates the Arab countries to find mechanisms through which they can confront common challenges, enhance regional security and stability, and achieve well-being for their countries and peoples, by evolving mechanisms for political coordination under the umbrella of the Arab League, in addition to enhancing economic cooperation and advancing development in various fields that directly affect the Arab citizens.