Arab League chief visit to Syria delayed: diplomat

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 06, 2011 4:55 PM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby has delayed a planned visit to Syria one day before it was due to start, an Arab diplomat said on Tuesday, without giving a reason.

An Arab League source had said that Elaraby was planning to travel to Damascus on Wednesday to convey Arab concerns over the Syrian government's violent crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

"The visit has been postponed, not canceled," an Arab diplomat at the Cairo-based League, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. "It will take place when conditions permit," he added without elaborating.

Egypt's state news agency MENA said that the delay followed a request from Syria. It said Syria gave no explanation for the delay and did not fix a new date for the trip.

Arab governments broke months of silence at a meeting at the League's headquarters in Cairo last week demanding Syria end months of bloodshed, and decided to send Elaraby to Damascus to push for political and economic reforms.

Elaraby visited Syria after he became secretary-general of the pan-Arab body in July, where he met with Assad.

Arab media quoted Elaraby as saying after the visit that the League did not accept "outside interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries."

(Reporting by Ayman Samir and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by Myra MacDonald)