Arab League rejects ban call to end Syria arms supplies

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U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon appealed Monday for an end to outside arms supplies to rival sides in the Syrian war but the Arab League chief said that would not be possible.

Ban pleaded for a halt during talks with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani, whose country has been accused by Damascus of arming Syrian rebels.

“The secretary general called for stemming the supply of arms to any side in the Syrian conflict. More arms would only mean more deaths and destruction,” said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.

But Al-Arabi turned down the idea when he spoke to reporters after the meeting.

“If there is a political settlement or a beginning of a political settlement, that could happen but at this point I don’t think it is possible,” he said.

“The government is getting arms from certain parties so if the other side gets some arms from certain parties I think you can get some form of a balance there,” the Arab League chief said. Qatar’s prime minister did not speak after the meeting.

An Arab League meeting in Doha last month gave member states the “right” to offer Syrians all means of self-defense, including arms supplies.

Ban, Al-Arabi and Al-Thani also discussed the deadlock in efforts to halt the conflict, now into its third year and with a death toll of “well over” 70,000 people, according to the U.N..

Ban, Al-Arabi and U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held a separate meeting later. There has been speculation that Brahimi could step down.

“Something has to be done, but no specific ideas came,” Al-Arabi said, while insisting that all sides are still “supporting the joint mission” by Brahimi because the United Nations and Arab League have the “same objective” to end the conflict and establish a democratic government.

On Brahimi’s future, Al-Arabi said: “We are very happy with him and I repeated that upstairs now.”