Russia urges North Africa to bring Syria back to Arab League

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday called for unfreezing Syria's membership in the Arab League, two months before the annual Arab summit in Tunisia in March. "We would like Tunisia to support the process of Syria's return to the Arab family and the League of Arab States as well," Lavrov told a joint press conference with his Tunisian counterpart Khamis al-Jahnawi in Tunis.

Russia's foreign minister is pressing North African countries to support Syria's return to the Arab League, now that Bashar Assad is largely seen as having won the Syrian civil war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria this week and at each stop called for Syria's reintegration into the "Arab family." Lavrov urged it to happen before an Arab League summit in Tunis in March.

Syria's membership was suspended in 2011 over Assad's military crackdown on protesters calling for reforms. Some Arab countries want Syria's membership restored, after backing from Russia and Iran helped Assad gain the upper hand in the war.

Tunisia's Foreign Minister Khemais Jhinaoui said Saturday that "Syria's natural place is in the Arab fold" but remained vague on Tunisia's official position.

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