Egypt’s Parliament Speaker Ali Abdul Aal presented a report on the resettlement of Syrians due to the ongoing crisis during the opening plenary of the 137th meeting of the International Parliament Union held in St. Petersburg in Russia on Sunday.
The session was hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and attended by around 1,000 parliamentarians from around the world. Putin focused in his opening speech on the necessity of maintaining international security and safety through cooperation on counterterrorism.
Abdul Aal, who was the representative for all the Arab delegation attending the meeting, submitted a report that included a number of suggestions to be adopted by the international community to reach a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement in Syria. The report was approved by all the Arab delegation attending the meeting.
Among the report’s suggestions was a proposed visit to Syria to meet Syrian citizens and parliamentarians, but some members of the working group declared their desire to meet in Geneva and already set a date in May, but it was postponed indefinitely for the insistence of the Syrian parliamentarians to organise a visit to Damascus first to know the reality of the situation, but still no date was set yet.
Syrian delegate Hamouda Sabbagh demanded during the meeting to abide by the negotiating situation in Geneva and Astana, and not interfere in the Syrian Constitution, especially as there is a new one to be prepared.
However, Abdul Aal commented, saying, “There is a commitment to these principles.” Also, the Arab delegation confirmed their approval of a political solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the negotiation process adopted in Astana and Geneva without creating new paths.
The report also included a number of topics that were recommended during the previous meeting of the union that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh last April. Among the recommendations, the officials decided to form a work group to follow Syrian affairs to come up with possible solutions.
For the Yemeni crisis, a delegation representing the Yemeni Parliament was permitted to attend the meeting and give a statement on the humanitarian situation of the country.
On the sidelines of the union meeting, the Arab delegation met and discussed a number of issues that included intensifying efforts to lift the economic embargo imposed on Sudan by the United States, as well as appointing members for vacant positions of the union committee, the new head of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Tarek Radwan, said.
Moreover, the attendees reviewed the financial report and the union’s standard budget of 2018 and discussed ways to increase cooperation with the United Nations, as well as plans to appoint a new head for the union, members for the Executive Committee, and an auditor.
They further discussed work reports of the union, the activities of its committees, and amendments to its executive regulations.
Abdul Aal held talks with leaders of foreign parliaments to discuss cooperation, and also with Putin, on the sidelines of the union session.