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Arab League chief says no consensus yet for Syria return

The Arab League said on Monday there was no consensus yet among member states that may allow the reinstatement of Syria’s membership, which was suspended in 2011. US-allied Arab states including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates backed the opposition to President Bashar Assad for years. In a big diplomatic boost for Assad, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in December, saying it aimed to normalize ties and curb risks of regional interference in “Arab, Syrian affairs” – an apparent reference to non-Arab Iran and Turkey. However, Arab League Secretary General and former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in Beirut there was no consensus yet on Syria being allowed back into the League, Reuters reports. “I do not yet observe conclusions… that may lead to [an Arab] foreign ministers meeting in which they announce the end of the difference and therefore call for Syria to return to occupy the seat,” he said. The Arab League is due to hold a summit meeting at the end of March in Tunisia.