Lebanon backs Syria in rejecting Arab League statement

Lebanese FM says League's declaration was in breach of agreements reached during foreign ministers' meeting and thus illegitimate.

Syria protest Lebanon 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Syria protest Lebanon 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Lebanon on Wednesday backed Damascus in rejecting the Arab League's call to end bloodshed in Syria, according to a report by DPA.
"Lebanon stands by brotherly Syria and its stance is clear in this regard,” Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour was quoted as telling Hezbollah-run radio station al-Nour.
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Mansour said the Arab League's statement had not been agreed upon by all participating nations. “A consensus had been reached by the conferees not to issue a statement at the end of the meeting but some attending the meeting, breached it and issued it.”
“Such a stand by some of the Arab League's foreign ministers prompted the Syrian delegation to send a diplomatic note to the Arab League's general secretariat in which it noted that the released statement did not reflect the meeting's final agreement,” Mansour said, adding that Syria was right in doing so.
Arab states told Syria on Sunday to "resort to reason" and end months of bloodshed after some of the most intense protests in Damascus since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad.
Arab League foreign ministers also agreed to send Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby to Syria to push for political and economic reforms in the country ruled by Assad's family for 41 years.
A delegate to the League has said Arab governments would step up pressure on Assad at a summit on Saturday with a demand he end the bloody crackdown.
"There has been an agreement in talks held between the Arab states on ... pressuring the Syrian regime to completely stop the military operations and withdraw its forces," the delegate said.
"A clear message (will be sent) to the Syrian president that it has become unacceptable for the Arab states to stay silent on what is happening in Syria, especially following the Security Council's move to impose sanctions on Syrian officials and the condemnation from the United Nations Human Rights Council," said the delegate, who asked not to be named.
The Arab League's move came as Syria's closest ally Iran also said Damascus must listen to the "legitimate demands" of its people, adding, however, that any change in Syria's ruling system or a power vacuum in Damascus would be dangerous for the region.
The United Nations says at least 2,200 people have been killed since Assad sent in tanks and troops to crush the demonstrations that erupted in March after the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt were toppled by popular protests.
But despite growing international condemnation, the threat of more Western sanctions, and escalating economic pressures because of the impact on tourism and investment, Assad's rule shows no sign of imminent collapse.
The Arab League council stressed "the importance of ending bloodshed and to resort to reason before it is too late".