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Syria crisis: Middle East heavyweights hold Cairo meeting

Middle East heavyweights Egypt, Turkey and Iran met in Cairo today to discuss the Syria crisis.

Cairo meeting on syria crisis 2012 9 17Enlarge
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr (R), Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (C) hold their first high-level meeting on the Syrian conflict in Cairo on September 17, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

Foreign ministers from Egypt, Turkey and Iran met in Cairo earlier today to discuss the bloody civil war in Syria, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

It was the first high-level meeting between the Middle East heavyweights whose job it is to find a solution to the 18-month-long conflict that has killed more than 27,000 people, the Associated Press reported.

Saudi Arabia is also a member of the “Islamic Quartet,” but Reuters reported that Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal did not attend the meeting due to ill health. No explanation was given for why a replacement was not sent. 

The AP reported that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi also met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu before the "contact group" talks to discuss the bloodbath in Syria.

The meeting of regional powers put Iran – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s key ally – at the same table as his main opponents in the Middle East who have called on him to step down. 

Western observers are not optimistic that the group can resolve the crisis, pointing to tensions between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite Muslim Iran as one major hurdle. 

The group has agreed to meet again in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr said after the meeting.

"To expect a quick solution from one meeting is unrealistic. We must be patient. But I confirm to you that the things we agree on are greater than our differences," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said during a news conference.

Newly appointed UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was due to meet the group in Cairo after spending four days in Syria, the Agence France-Presse reported. 

More from GlobalPost: Syria envoy Brahimi holds first meeting with Assad

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/120917/syria-crisis-middle-east-cairo-meeting