Qatar sees Syria signing Arab peace deal

Although saying he has info indicating Assad will sign, "if this is true or not true we'll see," Qatari FM says.

By REUTERS
December 18, 2011 18:41
2 minute read.
Qatar PM, talks to Arab League Secretary-General

Qatar PM, talks to Arab League Secretary-General (R) 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )

 
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RIYADH - Qatar said on Sunday it had information Syrian President Bashar Assad would finally sign an Arab peace plan aimed at ending his crackdown on anti-government protests, after weeks of stalling.

The Arab League has suspended Syria and imposed sanctions over Assad's refusal to accept its peace plan, which calls on Damascus to end bloodshed, free prisoners, start dialogue with the opposition and allow peace monitors into the country.

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Damascus has not rejected the plan outright, but has stalled for weeks, saying that the request it allow monitors could violate its sovereignty.

Arab foreign ministers meet in Egypt on Wednesday and could decide to put the plan before the United Nations Security Council, making it the basis for a wider international effort to force Assad to end violence.

"We have information that indicates that he (Assad) will sign the initiative. If this is true or not true we'll see," Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, told journalists on the sidelines of a meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Hamad is the head of an Arab League ministerial committee dealing with Syria, which has recommended that the League discuss putting its plan to Security Council. His remarks were carried by al-Arabiya television.

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The United Nations says 5,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in 10 months of unrest in Syria. Assad says his forces are fighting insurgents backed by foreign powers and that most of those killed were members of the security forces.

Earlier on Sunday, Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said he was optimistic Syria would sign the Arab peace plan before Wednesday's Arab League meeting.

"We are optimistic that Syria will join the Arab League in signing the protocol, which is ready now, within 24 hours," Abdullah said in Riyadh.

"That is what we hope for. If not, the Arab League foreign ministers will meet on Wednesday to consider measures that might be taken in the future," he added.

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