RIYADH - Gulf Arab officials, preparing for a summit on Monday in Saudi Arabia, have expressed hope that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would finally sign an Arab League peace deal aimed at ending a crackdown on protests and averting a civil war.
The crisis in Syria and a dispute with Iran will likely be high on the agenda of the meeting of Gulf Arab leaders in the Saudi capital Riyadh, their first summit since Arab uprisings transformed the Middle East this year.
After six weeks of Syrian stalling, Qatar said it had information Assad would sign the plan, which calls for withdrawing the army from towns that have turned against him, freeing thousands of political prisoners, starting dialogue with the opposition and letting monitors into the country.
"We have information that indicates that he will sign the initiative. If this is true or not true we'll see," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said in Riyadh, in remarks carried by al-Arabiya Television.