Arab League eyes blasphemy bill, Syria solution

Arab League chief Nabil al-Araby said Wednesday that the league, along with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the African Union are close to formulating an international agreement penalizing blasphemy and insults to religious figures.

States should not be blamed for insults to Islam made by some individuals, Araby told reporters at the league's headquarters in Cairo. He renewed his criticism of the US-produced film that denigrates Islam's Prophet Mohamed and has sparked protests around the world, describing it as "valueless and trivial."

Araby also denied any disagreements between Arab states over efforts to solve the Syrian crisis. Saudi Arabia did not attend a meeting held earlier this week on the Syrian issue with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Turkey and Iran.

Egypt's presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali and an official from the Arab League said the Saudi foreign minister did not attend the Monday meeting in Cairo due to health problems. But Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said his counterpart's absence was due to a busy agenda.

Araby recently attended a dinner at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, along with UN special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Turkey and Iran. He said he had also met with Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi at the Arab League over several issues, adding that Salehi expressed his willingness to assist Brahimi and would soon visit Ankara.

Asked about reports claiming that some Arab countries have been arming Syrian opposition rebels, Araby said the league had nothing to do with the arming issue and that any Arab nation doing so is acting outside the league's framework.

Edited translation from MENA

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