GCC, Arab FMs say political solution only way to end crisis in Syria

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Arab and Gulf foreign ministers, who convened in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah on Friday to discuss Arab developments, said a political solution is the only way to end the Syrian crisis.

The meeting between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers and their counterparts from Egypt, Jordan and Iraq was held upon the invitation of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

“The ministers discussed the efforts that aim to reach a political solution… which preserves Syria’s unity, security, stability and Arab identity and that brings Syria back to the Arab fold,” a statement issued by the Saudi foreign ministry said.

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During the meeting, the officials also voiced the importance of resolving the humanitarian crisis in the country and ensuring the delivery of aid to affected areas across Syria.

“[It’s also important to enhance] conditions to pave way toward the return of displaced citizens and refugees to their areas and to end their suffering.”

The ministers also reaffirmed the importance of combating terrorism and drug trafficking, noting that state institutions must perform their role of maintaining Syria’s sovereignty to end the presence of armed militias and ending foreign interferences in the country’s internal affairs.

“A political solution is the only solution to the Syrian crisis. It is [also] important that there is a leading Arab role in these efforts aimed at ending the crisis,” the statement said.

Over the past few months there has been increasing engagement with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who has been isolated since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday, on the first such trip since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Assad has visited the UAE and Oman this year, and last month, Saudi Arabia said it had started talks with Damascus about resuming consular services.

The discussions also addressed recent developments pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“The ministers condemned Israel’s illegitimate practices that undermine a two-state solution… as well as attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque and violation of sacred sites,” the statement said.

Recent weeks saw deadly attacks and clashes in Israel, annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, as well as cross-border fire between Israeli forces and militants in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria.

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