Syria Postpones Arab League Chief Visitإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A planned visit to Damascus Wednesday by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi in which he had been due to press the bloc's calls for reform has been postponed, diplomatic sources said.
"The visit has been put off to an undetermined date at Syria's request and a new meeting will be arranged soon," one diplomatic source told Agence France Presse on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Syria’s state-run television said “Syria has asked the Arab League’s secretary-general to postpone his visit to Damascus for objective reasons of which he has been informed.”
Arabi was scheduled to propose during his visit to Damascus that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hold elections in three years and immediately halt a crackdown on dissent, according to a copy of the proposals seen by Agence France Presse.
Arabi, who had been tasked by Arab foreign ministers with relaying the 13-point document, was also supposed to ask Assad to free political prisoners and compensate those wounded in more than five months of almost daily anti-regime protests.
The proposal, agreed at an Arab foreign ministers' meeting last month in Cairo, calls for a "clear declaration of principles by President Bashar al-Assad specifying commitment to reforms he made in past speeches."
It said Assad should declare his "commitment to making the transition towards a pluralistic government and use his powers to speed up reforms and announce multi-candidate elections ... for 2014, when his mandate ends."
It also demands an immediate halt to the Syrian government's crackdown on anti-regime protests.
At the August 27 meeting, the Arab ministers had called for an end the bloodshed "before it is too late" and for "respecting the right of the Syrian people to live in security and respecting their legitimate aspirations for political and social reforms."
More than 2,200 people have been killed in Syria since the almost daily mass protests began, according to the United Nations. Assad's regime says it is fighting foreign-backed "armed terrorist gangs."
The proposal also calls on Assad's minority Alawite-led government "to immediately end" the crackdown on protesters in order "to spare Syria from sliding into sectarian strife or providing justification for foreign intervention."
The initiative also calls on Assad to "separate the military from political and civil life" and for the start of "serious political contacts between the president and representatives of the Syrian opposition."