A delegation of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union visited Damascus on Sunday, underscoring the importance of bringing Syria back to the Arab fold.
The president of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union and Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi headed the high-ranking delegation to Damascus.
The eight Arab lawmakers held a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and then went to the Syrian Parliament to meet lawmakers.
Among the visitors was Egypt’s Parliament Speaker Hanafy Ali El-Gebali, the first Egyptian top official to visit Syria during the 11-year war.
Speaking to reporters in Damascus, al-Halboosi said the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union determined to work on all levels to bring Syria back to the Arab fold to assume its role in the Arab, regional, and international arena.
“Syria is indispensable, and we, as the parliamentary union representing our people, are pushing our governments to achieve more rapprochements to reach our goal of serving these countries are their dignified people,” al-Halboosi said.
For his part, El-Gebali said he and the other lawmakers came to Syria to show solidarity with the Syrian people.
“We don’t wait for Syria to come to us, we come to Syria because it’s our country also,” the Egyptian said.
El-Gebali revealed that their visit to Syria wasn’t on the schedule of the recent Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union mini-summit in Baghdad.
He said that it is al-Halboosi’s idea, noting that the Iraqi lawmaker took care of the travel arrangements for the visit to Syria.
According to Syria’s state news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed that the delegation’s visit to his country means a lot to the Syrian people as it indicates support for them.
Assad said the visit affirms that there are effective Arab institutions capable of taking the initiative in various circumstances and moving in the interest of the Arab people.
He also thanked Arab countries for the rapid response shown at the popular and official levels to help the Syrian people overcome the impacts of the earthquake.
After the tragic earthquakes that jolted Syria on Feb. 6, Arab countries have sent many aid shipments to Syria amid signs of a wide-scale diplomatic detente.
Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended in 2011 after the Syrian civil war broke out. ■