Syrian opposition invited to Arab summit: envoy

DOHA- The opposition Syrian National Coalition has been invited to the Arab summit this week, bringing the rebels closer to filling Syria's seat in the Arab League, the group's Qatar envoy said Sunday.
The invitation was revealed as differences over the participation of the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the summit emerged during a ministerial preparatory meeting on Sunday.

"The coalition has received an official invitation to attend the Arab summit," said Nizar al-Haraki, who is the group's envoy in Qatar.
He said the coalition chief, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, and the newly elected rebel interim premier Ghassan Hitto are expected to arrive soon in Doha. Khatib was to later decide on who fills in Syria's seat.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani told fellow ministers that he "looked forward" to the participation of Khatib and Hitto in the summit as per an Arab League announcement earlier this month.
The league on March 6 called on the coalition "to form an executive body to take up Syria's seat" and attend the summit which opens on Tuesday.
The opposition alliance has begun steps to form an executive body to administer rebel-held territory inside Syria, electing Hitto at a meeting in Turkey earlier this week.
But Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari reiterated Baghdad's reservations over recognising the opposition as representatives of the Syrian people in the league.
"We have expressed reservations... for legal reasons," he said at the ministerial meeting.
In addition to Iraq, Algeria too has expressed reservations, while Lebanon distanced itself from measures against neighbouring Syria.
The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in November 2011 after Damascus rejected a peace plan calling for an end to the violence but demanding that Assad step down.
The bloc also imposed a raft of other sanctions, including suspending trade with the government, freezing its bank accounts abroad, and suspending air links.

Sunday, March 24th 2013

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