Last updated: 29 November, 2011

Syrian Foreign Minister to attend emergency Islamic meeting

Syria’s foreign minister will attend an emergency meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation aimed at finding ways to end the bloodshed in his country, an OIC official said Tuesday.

The meeting to be held on Wednesday comes just days after the Arab League imposed unprecedented economic sanctions on Syria, including a ban on travel of Syrian officials to Arab countries.

“The (OIC) general secretariat has received confirmation from the Syrian side that Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will attend,” the OIC official told AFP requesting anonymity.

He also said that Ali Akbar Salehi, the foreign minister of Iran which is a key regional ally of Syria, will also attend the meeting in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.

A statement from the OIC said the world’s largest body has called on Syria “to stop the violence against civilians” and implement reform “in order to spare the country the risk of internationalisation of the crisis.”

According to UN estimates more than 3,500 people have been killed in Syrian since mid-March in a government crackdown on pro-democracy

The Arab League approved on Sunday sweeping sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad government’s over its crackdown on anti-regime protests — the first time the bloc has enforced punitive measures of such magnitude on one of its own members.

Measures include an immediate ban on transactions with Damascus and its central bank and a freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries.

They also bar Syrian officials from visiting Arab countries and call for a suspension of all flights to Arab states to be implemented on a date to be set next week.

But the OIC “has nothing to do with Saudi authorities allowing (Muallem) to enter the country,” the official said as the list of officials banned from travel to Arab states should be determined next week.