Agence France-Presse

Syria crisis: Arab League postpones meeting

Meeting in Cairo yesterday, the Arab League called on President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to his deputy and for both sides in the current conflict to end the violence.



The Arab League has postponed a meeting on the Syrian conflict scheduled for Sunday in Saudi Arabia.

Arab foreign ministers were due to meet in the Red Sea city of Jeddah to strategize their next move on Syria and to discuss a possible envoy to Syria to replace Kofi Annan, who resigned earlier this month, Reuters reported.

However, the Arab League's deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Helli told reporters in Cairo that the meeting was "postponed until a later date." He gave no indication as to why the meeting was delayed, AFP reported.

According to the BBC, veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has been tipped to replace Annan, who resigned after his six-point peace plan failed to come into effect.

The UN observer missions' mandate in Syria is due to run out in a week's time, but Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that people need to be on the ground so that the UN can make impartial assessment of the military situation.

Though the Security Council will discuss the issue on Thursday, the US is taking steps outside the structure of the UN to support Syrian opposition groups.

"Our number-one goal is to hasten the end of the bloodshed and the Assad regime," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said while in Istanbul on Saturday.

Fighting has continued in Syria through the weekend in both Damascus and Aleppo. The Associated Press reported that two Syrian journalists were killed in the capital, citing Syrian state news agency SANA.

According to activists, more than 20,000 people have been killed since the protest began 17 months ago.  

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