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Egyptian foreign minister discusses Syria with Kerry - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (R) meets with his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy in Amman on August 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (R) meets with his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy in Amman on August 25, 2013. AFP PHOTO/KHALIL MAZRAAWI

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fehmi condemned last week’s alleged chemical attack in Damascus, and said he had spoken to the US secretary of state on the issue of the crisis in Syria on Sunday as pressure mounts for an international response.

“Egypt condemned the Ghouta attacks in Syria and said that all countries in the region were very concerned for Syria and its unity,” Fehmi told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that he spoke to US Secretary of State John Kerry on the telephone about the situation in Syria. He affirmed Kerry’s concern about the use of chemical weapons and the importance of allowing UN inspectors into the area to investigate the issue.

The minister said on Sunday that “I pointed out during my conversation with Kerry that the Egyptian foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the attack and rejecting the escalation in Syria, which affects the Syrian state and its future.”

Fehmi added that the issue will be discussed at the Arab League meeting on Tuesday, to make a decision which leading to a political settlement.

Arab League deputy secretary-general Ahmad Ben Hilli told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Arab League will hold a meeting on Tuesday at the representative level to discuss the dangerous developments and the crime that took place in Ghouta, which shocked the Arab world.”

Ben Hilli said Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby has been in constant contact with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, and has highlighted the importance of starting an investigation by the UN team to reveal the circumstances behind the attack, adding that “we are following with concern the reaction, which could lead the region into a horrific scenario.”

On whether the anticipated scenario was similar to what happened in Libya, Ben Hilli said: “No, but everyone knows the consequences of escalation and reaction. This makes it imperative for the Arabs and the Syrians that a solution is found and that the tragedy is ended.”

He added that “this effort aims to end all forms of violence and provide the suitable climate for a political resolution, which all parties should be urged to maintain.”

On the Syrian government’s rejection of a political settlement for more than two years, Ben Hilli said: “What is happening in Ghouta forms a dangerous turn in the course of events. Everyone must realize that we are facing a decisive moment to save the Syrian people, and must realize that we are facing a crossroads caused by the loss of forward vision and wisdom to stop events taking this dangerous turn.”

In response to Russian claims that the chemical weapons allegedly used in last week’s attack were owned by the Syrian opposition, Ben Hilli said: “We await the results of the investigation by the international inspectors and we hope they work objectively and professionally, and the Arab League chief is in constant contact with Ban Ki-moon and has sent a message to both the Security Council president and the secretary-general to find out what had happened. We should not rush into conclusions and must wait to see what the inspectors say about this heinous crime.”