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Morsi hits out at Assad

September 5, 2012

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has told a meeting of Arab League ministers that the time for regime change in Syria is now. He's also used his speech to bring Egypt back from "marginalization" in the Arab region.

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi leaves the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.
Image: Reuters

Speaking in Cairo at the Arab League headquarters, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi made an impassioned appeal to diplomats to bring the crisis in Syria to an end, saying the people there had spoken.

"I call on you, Arab foreign ministers, to work hard to find an urgent solution to the tragedy in Syria," Morsi said.

"The Syrian people have made their decision," he continued. "There is no room for delay in taking a crucial decision to stop bloodshed and usher Syria into change."

Directly addressing Syrian President Bashar Assad, Morsi said: "Now is the time for change ... You will not stay (in power) for longer."

Redefining Egypt

Morsi also used his speech to highlight his country's role in the Arab region. In June, he was elected Egypt's first Islamist leader following the popular revolt that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak. Since then, he has endeavored to redefine Egypt's diplomatic path and bring it back from what he calls "marginalization."

"We return from this marginalization, where we have lived in recent decades, back to Egypt's natural historic role," Morsi told Wednesday's meeting in Cairo. "Our ability as Arabs to face the challenges of the current phase is largely based on our ability to develop Arab cooperation."

"We must complete each other and be able to reform the mechanisms of Arab cooperation in order to revive, in all of us, the concept of Arab unity," he said.

Morsi will head off on his first official trip to Europe next week. He is due to visit Brussels and Rome, before attending the UN General Assembly.

jr/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)