Arab League summit opens with Syrian president in attendance

The Arab League summit has opened in Saudi Arabia with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in attendance for the first time in 12 years.

The meeting started on Friday with the leaders of some 20 countries gathering in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. Among them are Qatar's Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Assad's attendance follows Syria's reinstatement as a member earlier this month. The country was suspended from the regional group in 2011 due to the president's harsh crackdowns on prodemocracy protesters. The protests led to a civil war that is still going on to this day. Much of the international community has shunned Syria.

Assad's return is seen as an opportunity for Syria to demonstrate its rapprochement with its neighbors.

However, the United States continues its economic sanctions against Syria, criticizing its violent clampdowns on anti-government activists. In the Arab world, countries like Qatar remain reluctant to normalize relations with Syria.

Observers are waiting to see whether the latest summit will help Syria restore relations with other Arab nations.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Saudi Arabia and delivered a speech at the summit.