13 February 2012 8:35 pm | | 3


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Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafik Abdessalem announced that the inaugural meeting of the Friends of Syria will take place in Tunisia on February 24.

The Friends of Syria is a group of nations proposed by France and the United States as a response to Russia and China’s veto of the United Nations’ resolution regarding the unrest in Syria on February 4.

The announcement came at a meeting of Arab League ministers in Cairo on February 12, held to discuss new diplomatic efforts to confront the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

“Tunisia strongly condemns the violence and violations committed against Syrian civilians,” said Abdessalem to the local press.

Arab League ministers embraced this initiative at yesterday’s meeting, which was devoted to monitoring the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

The announcement was particularly welcomed by two Arab countries, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and by the United Kingdom’s representative, Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Abdessalem asserted that this initiative would bring together all nations intent on seeing a resolution to the Syrian crisis. China and Russia are expected to participate in the event as well.

“The Syrian people deserve freedom as much as their brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other Arab states that witnessed major political change,” Adessalam told ministers.

In a statement issued by the French Presidential Office on February 5, President Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the Russian and Chinese veto and added that Paris had been consulting Arab and European countries to create Friends of Syria.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her disappointment and echoed Sarkozy’s stance on February 5, calling for the establishment of a group that would unite and rally against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

According to Rianovosti, though, Alexander Lukashevich, spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on February 13 that “Moscow does not consider the U.S-backed ‘Friends of Syria’ legitimate.”

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