Arab countries should forget personal disagreements: Syrian president (UPDATE)
Arab countries must reconcile their differences to safeguard their interests during the economic crisis, Al Jazeera quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying at an Arab summit in Doha.
"We must not allow the mistakes of the past to repeat themselves. We must prevent a second partitioning of Arab countries as in the middle of the last century," Assad said.
The 21st Arab summit began in the capital of Qatar on March 30 and will last two days.
The main topic on the agenda is inter-Arab consent and promoting the Arab truce plan.
Strategies to overcome inter-Arab disputes were discussed at a mini-summit in Kuwait in January 2009. Two months later, the efforts continued during a meeting of the Saudi Arabian, Syrian and Egyptian leaders in Riyadh.
Assad said Arab countries need to build unified trade relations and expand economic cooperation.
"We must find new ways of partnership in trade and coordinate all our decisions. An inter-Arab rift appeared during Israel's latest attacks on Gaza, and this should be a signal to the Arab world," Assad said.
Assad added that Arab states' domestic and personal differences must be forgotten to build new relations in the Arab world.
"We cannot continue to operate in such an atmosphere," he said.
Relations between Damascus and Arab countries remain strained due to close Syrian-Iranian ties, as well as Damascus' support for the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.
Assad said Arab countries should support resistance in the region, particularly against Israeli threats.
"Arab countries should not blame one another. They must create a united Arab policy. We should not seek help elsewhere. We should act unitedly, especially when Israel acts with impunity," Assad said.
Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas in December and January killed over 1,300 Palestinians.
Assad also touched upon Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir's arrest. He said Arab countries should not just criticize the situation, but rather respond.
In early March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused Al Bashir of committing genocide against the population of the Darfur province, but Arab countries condemned the ICC's actions.
Despite the danger of being arrested, Al Bashir is participating in the Qatar summit.
According to documents available to the ICC, Al Bashir is responsible for the murder of 35,000 people and leaving over 265,000 Darfur inhabitants without a home.
According to the UN, as a result of the conflict between the black population and governmental groups lasting since 2003, 300,000 people were killed and over 2.5 million became refugees. Khartoum argues that no more than 10,000 people died in the country.
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