TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Tuesday called for Syria’s return to the Arab League, during a speech at the fifth Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum in Moscow.

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“Every time we meet, there is a vacant chair. … It is not permissible for Syria to remain outside the Arab fold,” Bassil said, according to a statement from his office, the Daily Star reported.

Syria’s membership in the Arab League has been suspended since 2011, following the outbreak of a foreign-backed war in the Arab country.

“Our Arab people are counting on us and are waiting for the Arab League to play an essential role in bringing together Arabs and solving our many problems,” Bassil added.

He described the region’s list of issues as “long and difficult,” but emphasized that addressing the Syrian crisis should take priority.

He added, “Libya and Yemen are waiting for us and we have to take the initiative. Palestine is on the verge of falling apart, for which we must take the initiative, and Sudan and Algeria are not in the best shape either.”

Bassil also urged increased cooperation between Lebanon and Russia, “not just on the political level but including the economy and all its sectors, from oil and gas in which Russian companies lead the field, to industry, technology, advanced science, organic agriculture and tourism.”

He added that cooperating with Russia is “not directed against anyone and nobody should be concerned.”

“The main objective of this meeting is coordination, cooperation and to find ways to improve life in our Arab region. Arab cooperation with China, Russia, Japan, India, America or the European Union is in the interest of the Arab people. … It is not a military or political alliance directed against anyone.”

Terrorist groups were largely defeated in Iraq and Syria in late 2017.