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Report: Arab League chief postpones visit to Syria

Arab World Materials 7 September 2011 04:19
The head of the Arab League postponed his scheduled visit to Syria, just hours after it had been announced, Al Jazeera broadcaster reported on Tuesday.
Report: Arab League chief postpones visit to Syria

The head of the Arab League postponed his scheduled visit to Syria, just hours after it had been announced, Al Jazeera broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

Nabil al-Arabi was set to visit Damascus on Wednesday to propose an initiative that calls for ending bloodshed, introducing political pluralism and holding free elections in 2014, dpa reported.

Al Jazeera said there were no reasons given for the decision.

The Secretary-General was expected to meet with President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Wednesday, with no plans for meeting with any opposition figures.

Protests in Syria began in March calling for more freedoms, political reform and the ouster of al-Assad. The government launched a violent crackdown on demonstrators, leaving at least 2,200 people killed so far.

The Arab League initiative was adopted by Arab foreign ministers at an emergency meeting in Cairo last month.

The demands of the initiative include an immediate end to violence on civilians; compensation for victims' loss and damages; the release of political prisoners and activists arrested for participation in recent protests; and the withdrawal of the army from Syrian towns and cities, the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported.

The initiative also calls for a transition to democracy in Syria based on pluralistic and transparent elections that would be held in 2014, which is when al-Assad's term in office is scheduled to end.

The Arab League also called for the government to engage in genuine dialogue with all opposition forces, in which the Arab League will be the mediator depending on agreed mechanisms and timetable, it added.

Many have criticized the Arab League decisions as too limited and merely symbolic, since its mandate does not grant it an enforcement mechanism to implement proposals.

Syria dismissed the Arab League's statement in August as unacceptable, and denied that al-Arabi would be presenting any initiatives during his visit.

The visit is scheduled in the midst of ongoing killings and arrests of protesters. Over 30 people were killed this week across Syria.

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