Gulf-EU ministerial meeting calls for Syria political settlement

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Gulf Arab nations and the European Union pledged on Sunday to find a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, calling on Iran to play a “constructive role” in the international efforts to suppress the violence.

In the one-day ministerial meeting in Bahrain, the officials ministers “reiterated the utmost urgency of finding a political settlement of the Syrian conflict,” said a statement issued at the end of the meeting, attended by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

They also pledged to “spare no effort in helping to create the appropriate conditions for a successful convening of the peace conference on Syria,” AFP news agency reported.

Russia and the United States have been striving to hold the conference in Geneva.

The GCC and the EU also slammed Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah which backs the Damascus regime in the 27-month conflict and “condemned” its role “in military operations in Syria.”

Saudi Arabia, a key backer of the Syrian opposition along with fellow GCC powerbroker Qatar, insisted the European Union should “immediately” arm Syrian opposition fighters.

The EU “must immediately implement its decision” to lift an arms embargo on weapons destined for Syria’s opposition, said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

This, he said, was essential to offset assistance Damascus received from “Hezbollah and other forces backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who get unlimited supplies of Russian weapons”.

A lift of an EU arms embargo on Syria’s armed opposition will come into effect next month.

Ashton told the gathering “we need to work harder together to find the political solution that will bring peace” to Syria and expressed concern about a spillover of the war into neighboring Lebanon and Iraq.

“We are extremely concerned about the plight of the people and about rising sectarian conflicts in Lebanon and Iraq, and we want to do our utmost to try and defuse tension,” she said.

(With AFP)

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