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Arab League Calls Meeting for Dec. 21 to Discuss Syria

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Arab League foreign ministers will meet in Cairo on Dec. 21 to discuss submitting a proposal on Syria to the United Nations Security Council, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim Al Thani said.

Syria disagreed with the wording of a recommendation from a committee of the league that met today in Doha, Qatar’s capital, Sheikh Hamad told reporters.

“Syria, in my view, doesn’t listen to us, why doesn’t it listen to its own people,” he said. “We are worried that this will be a civil war or if it has started already.”

The Arab League imposed sanctions on Syria on Nov. 27, increasing economic and political pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, 46, to end a crackdown against protests that began in mid-March, inspired by popular movements that toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The violence risks moving the nation closer to civil war as military personnel defect and take up arms against the government.

The league will hold talks on giving its own resolution to the UN rather than the Security Council considering those from other governments, Sheikh Hamad said.

A Russian proposal to the UN “demands that all parties in Syria immediately stop any violence, irrespective of where it comes from.” The draft doesn’t call for sanctions against Syria.

The Arab League said Dec. 8 it would lift sanctions, including a freeze on Syrian assets and a travel ban on senior officials in Assad’s government, when the country signs a protocol allowing monitors in the country, according to Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency. The U.S. and EU have also imposed sanctions.

Assad has blamed the unrest on foreign provocateurs, while his forces have used tanks, armored vehicles and artillery to crush the uprising.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Harrison at mharrison5@bloomberg.net

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