Egypt’s president says ‘time for change’ in Syria

Damaged buildings are seen in the old city of Homs September 4, 2012. — Reuters picDamaged buildings are seen in the old city of Homs September 4, 2012. — Reuters picCAIRO, Sept 5 — Egypt’s president, promising to put Cairo back at the heart of Arab affairs, made an impassioned appeal to Arab states today to work for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and said the time had come to change the Syrian government.

Mohamed Mursi, making his first presidential address to the Arab League in Cairo, also said a quartet of states — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt — would meet to discuss the Syrian crisis.

“The quartet which Egypt has called for will meet now,” Mursi told the Arab foreign ministers, although he did not give details of the gathering in his speech.

An Egyptian delegate said the president’s comments meant there were contacts between the four states to discuss what action could be taken but that the formation of the quartet was still under discussion and no time had been set for their representatives to meet.

Tehran has backed Syria’s government but the three other states want President Bashar al-Assad to stand down.

Analysts said the group was unlikely to agree on how to handle the crisis and might not meet in one place, but said the initiative indicated the newly elected president’s determination to put Egypt back at the centre of regional politics.

On the Syrian crisis, Mursi said the time had come in Syria for “change and not wasting time speaking of reform. This time has passed now. Now it is time for change.” — Reuters


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