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Arab ministers: ‘Political solution is the only formula to resolve the Syrian crisis’

RIYADH: A group of Arab ministers underscored on Tuesday that a political solution remains the only option in ending the Syrian crisis, according to a statement issued after a gathering in Cairo.

“The participants underscored that a political solution is the only formula to resolve the Syrian crisis, expressing hopes for the resumption of the constitutional path towards that goal, including holding the upcoming meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in the Sultanate of Oman before the end of this year in coordination with the United Nations,” the statement said.

The group also welcomed the Syrian decision to extend humanitarian access at some key crossings in the country, and expressed hope for the continued and unaltered delivery of assistance to those most in need.

“Participants in the meeting welcomed the joint agreement between the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Republic announced on August 7, 2023, concerning the delivery of humanitarian assistance through the Bab al-Hawa Crossing for six months. They also welcomed the Syrian government’s decision to extend the opening of the Bab al-Salam and Al-Raei crossings for humanitarian assistance until November 13, 2023,” the statement read.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, along with his Egyptian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Syrian counterparts and the secretary-general of the Arab League.

There was also emphasis on the need to address the refugee crisis. The Liaison Committee and the Syrian minister highlighted the importance of boosting cooperation between the Syrian government and nations hosting Syrian nationals to facilitate their return and end their suffering. The plan should be implemented with the coordination of UN entities such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the statement said.

“The Minister stressed the government’s continuous commitment to taking and intensifying these measures, including facilitating the opening of additional offices for the UNHCR in the areas of refugee return. He added that there would also be periodic announcements about the measures being undertaken to facilitate refugee repatriation, including their inclusion under decrees of presidential pardons.”

The Syrian minister also confirmed the ongoing commitment to periodically release statistics concerning the returning refugee population.

The gathering was a follow up on the Amman Communique issued on May 1, 2023, seeking to enhance the Arab role in resolving the Syrian crisis, addressing its various implications in line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254.

Attendees also emphasized the important need to increase international cooperation on accelerating “the execution of early recovery projects,” advocating for broadening the spectrum of humanitarian endeavors while laying the essential groundwork for the recovery process.

“The Syrian Minister indicated the procedures and provisions that Syria has put in place. He pointed out the existing collaboration and dialogue with the UNHCR, emphasizing the supportive measures that the Syrian government has provided to facilitate the Commission’s activities within Syria.”

On the issues of combatting the scourge of cross-border trafficking of drugs, the participants welcomed “the convening in July 2023 of the first meeting of the Jordanian-Syrian joint security committee to control borders and combat drug production and smuggling.”

“They also welcomed the joint cooperation between the governments of Iraq and Syria in the field of drug control through the exchange of information, which resulted in August 2023 in the dismantling of an international smuggling network that was smuggling drugs in the countries of the region as well as preparing to conclude a memorandum of understanding between the two countries in this regard,” the statement said.

And on the matter of terrorism, the members of the contact committee “stressed the need to support efforts to combat terrorism in Syria, the call for intensifying cooperation between the Syrian government, the concerned countries, and the United Nations, and for the international community to play an effective role in eliminating this threat in all its forms and manifestations.”

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