Syria to be readmitted soon to Arab League, Jordan minister says

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi speaks during a news conference in Amman

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syria should soon be able to return to the Arab League but many challenges lie ahead in resolving the country's more than decade-old conflict, Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Friday.

The organisation suspended Syria's membership in 2011 over President Bashar al-Assad's violent crackdown on an uprising that has evolved into a civil war.

Safadi said Syria had enough votes among the group's 22 members to regain its seat.

"The return to the league will happen. Symbolically it will be important but ... that is only a very humble beginning of what will be a very long and difficult and challenging process, given the complexity of the crisis after 12 years of conflict," he told CNN.

A spokesperson for the Arab League said on Thursday that Arab ministers will meet in Cairo on Sunday to discuss Syria amid the regional push to normalise ties with Assad.

Several Arab states including Saudi Arabia and Egypt have recently reengaged with Syria through high-level visits and meetings, although some including Qatar remain opposed to full normalisation without a political solution to Syria's conflict

At a meeting in Amman on Monday, Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met for the first time with Arab ministers as part of a Jordanian initiative to get Damascus to negotiate a peace plan.

It lays a road map for ending the conflict would include addressing the issues of refugees, missing detainees, drug smuggling and Iranian militias in Syria.

Safadi said Syria's readiness to make real progress in resolving the conflict would help it win the crucial Arab support to lobby for an eventual end of Western sanctions that are a major impediment to launching a major reconstruction effort.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)