Russia Lobbies Tunisia to Support Syria's Arab League Return

(Bloomberg) -- Russia called on Tunisia to back its effort to get Syria reinstated to the Arab League Saturday as Moscow pushes to thaw ties between Bashar al-Assad and other nations in the region.

“We have a common view on the need to do everything possible to prevent the erosion of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, to strive for Syria to return to the Arab family and resume its participation in the Arab League,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said following a meeting with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Russia has backed Assad throughout an eight-year civil war and its military assistance was instrumental in helping the Syrian government reassert authority. Moscow has said that it expects the Arab League, which suspended Syria’s membership in 2011, to readmit the country soon.

Tunisia is hosting an Arab League summit in March and has been supportive of Syria’s return to the group. Essebsi affirmed Tunisia’s commitment to a unified Syria “and its emergence from its crisis as soon as possible,” according to a statement from the presidency. The return of Syria to the Arab League would require “a decision by consensus from the Arab group,” Essebsi said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.