Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Wednesday to begin discussions on pressing concerns prevailing over the Middle East.
In statement posted on its website, the US State Department said the “strategic dialogue” is an “opportunity for us to work even more closely together on the many issues that are affecting the lives of people in all of the countries represented by the Arab League as well as the United States.”
Aboul Gheit said the wide-ranging dialogue, the first of its kind on the level of the US state secretary and GCC secretary-general, will “explore further the level of cooperation” and to “deepen the relationship.”
The statement did not mention specifics, but some news reports have quoted political analysts as saying the US will follow up on its earlier statement for the Arab League to press the Assad regime to address crucial issues, now that Syria has been readmitted to the 22-member aggrupation.
The United Nations has been asking Syria to expand access by international aid groups to its opposition-controlled northwest territories, where over 4 millions of displaced people are in danger of starvation. Last week, the UN Security Council failed to reach an agreement to keep open the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing that allows aid agencies to enter from Turkey.
Syria’s membership from the league was suspended in 2011 amid a deadly crackdown by the Assad regime on dissent at the height of the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings. According to the UN, the ensuing armed conflict has killed an estimated 306,887 civilians and displaced more than 12 million Syrians from their homes, including 5.4 million living as refugees in neighboring countries as of 2022.
Among the other pressing regional concerns expected to be discussed in the Arab League-US dialogue are the Sudan conflict, the increasing Israeli land-aggression against Palestinians, Yemen’s peace initiative and more.