Qatar's emir to attend Beirut economic summit

Lebanon calls for Syrian refugees' return as Arab economic summit opens in Beirut

Aoun called on all Arab financial foundations and institutions to participate in a meeting in Beirut in the next three months for discussing and developing an effective mechanism for the reconstruction of countries affected by conflicts.

Despite Syria' absence at the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit held in Beirut by the Arab League (AL), the debate over normalizing the pan-Arab body's ties with Syria cast a shadow over the gathering.

The head of the Arab League, Ahmed Abul Gheit, said on Thursday that member states have not reached a consensus on Syria's return to the 22-member bloc.

Qatar has been one of the main backers of Syrian insurgents trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

Speaking during the summit on Sunday, Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan said that the kingdom will propose incorporating the AESD into the annual Arab League summit, in an apparent jab to Lebanon, which had hoped to use the platform to boost it's sinking economy.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun also urged world powers to step up efforts to help Syrian refugees return home. Syria, whose Arab League membership has been suspended since 2011, and Libya are not taking part in the meeting.

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"We call on the worldwide community to take its responsibility to curb the misery", Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said, reading a statement which the summit agreed.

"The United States has lately put pressures on Arab countries to freeze their plans to re-open their embassies in Syria and to halt their talks about rebuilding the country", Rafic Nasrallah, director of the Lebanese International Center for Media and Research, told Xinhua.

Seven Arab leaders had been expected at Sunday's summit but only Sheikh Tamim and the president of Mauritania came to Beirut.

Most Arab states are represented at the summit by delegations at the ambassadorial level.

The other leaders' absence appeared to be a snub to Lebanon, where groups led by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah had insisted that Assad should be invited.

"I speak out of experience because Lebanon has paid a high price for wars and terrorism, and it has been shouldering for years the heaviest regional and worldwide burden, of the displacement of the Syrian brothers, in addition to the ongoing presence of the brotherly Palestinian refugees for seventy years, whereas their numbers amount to half of the Lebanese population".

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