Jan 20, 2019, 6:29 PM
News Code: 83177873
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Rifts and absences overshadow Arab summit in Beirut

Tehran, Jan 20, IRNA -- Rifts and absences overshadowed Arab summit in Beirut as only three out of 22 memebers of the Arab League were present in the meeting; Syria and Libya were fully absent and other countries sent low-level delegations.

Only three leaders atteneded Arab League's fourth Economic and Social Development Summit held in the Lebanese capital Beirut. Syria wasn't there although it was one of the main topics.

Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz are the only heads of state from the 22-member Arab League that are present in the meeting. Other countries have sent lower-level delegations.

The Associated Press reported that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar arrived shortly before the summit and left minutes after it began. His presence is widely seen as a first step to normalize ties with the actual government in Damascus.

“We regret the absences of some brotherly kings and presidents who have their justified excuses,” Aoun said without elaborating further.

Several Arab states such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reopened their embassies in Damascus as a sign of recognition of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

However, there are still rifts between the 22-memeber League about readmitting Syria that was suspended in 2011. Libya, still gripped in an ongoing war, is another absentee of Sunday's reunion.

The meeting is the first economic and development summit to be held since 2013 when Saudi Arabia was the host.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said nearly half of all refugees “come from our Arab world.”

Also, the Lebanese president used the meeting to call for the return of some million Syrian refugees that are currently living there. “The number of Syrian and Palestinian refugees now equals half of the Lebanese population,” he said, adding, 'We are here to discuss the destructive consequences of the wars on the economy and development in our countries.”

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