— Egypt's president has made an impassioned plea to fellow Arab leaders to bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi urged Arab leaders to make ending the conflict in Syria the region's top priority.
"Any talk of developing the Arab world's work, and building our shared future, cannot gain the momentum we want in reality as long as the Syrian people's suffering continues,” Morsi said.
Making his first appearance as president before the Arab League Wednesday, Morsi outlined his plan for a regional quartet -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran -- to work toward a negotiated settlement. He also repeated his call for the Syrian government to step down.
"There is still a chance to stop the bloodshed. There is no room for pride or bidding. Don't listen to the voices that tempt you to stay because you will not be here for long,” Morsi said.
Syria's information minister this week rejected Mr. Morsi's effort, dismissing him as a stooge of the United States and Israel.
But in Cairo, Syrian opposition members who have been holding vigil outside the Arab League welcomed Mr. Morsi's plan in general.
Activist Nawras el Sag said he was delighted -- but with reservations.
“This is the first time an Arab leader said something we value. But we wished for more. He could at least talk about the channel that distributes arms to Syria from Iran. He should have said it needs to be closed," el Sag said.
El Sag also questioned Mr. Morsi's plan to include Iran in the talks, given Tehran's support for the Syrian government.
"Women, young ladies, the elderly, are all killed by Iran. It is our enemy and we regard it the same as Bashar ((al-Assad)), our number one enemy," El Sag said.
Activist Khalil el Kordi, though, held out hope that including Iran could help stop the bloodshed.
“Iran should take a stance on the grounds that it works by honor, in accordance with Islam, work by its religion. Simply, today, a Muslim should not kill a Muslim,” el Kordi said.
Morsi's plan coincides with a joint effort by the Arab League and the United Nations to send a new special envoy to Syria. But few on either side of the conflict, or among those trying to bring it to an end, predict either mission will bring about any change soon.
Photo Gallery: Latest Images from Syria
Timeline: Events in Syrian Conflict
This image made from video provided by Shaam News Network (SNN) and accessed by the Associated Press on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 purports to show people walking through rubble after shelling in Idlib, Syria.
Residents inspect the damage after what was said to be an air raid by Syrian government forces near Azaz, September 3, 2012.
A Syrian child stands next to rebel fighters checking a house that was damaged in bombing by government forces in Marea, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, September 4, 2012.
A Syrian rebel fighter prepares his AK-47 before going on patrol in Marea, on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria, September 4, 2012.
A view shows the wreckage after a car bomb exploded in the Jaramana district of southeast Damascus September 3, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Civilians wait to receive food rations in the Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz. At the Azaz-Kilis crossing, Syrians described dire conditions for refugees still trapped on the other side of the border.
Syrian Hamzah Abu Bakri, displays portraits of his brothers who were killed last week while standing by their vegetable shop in Aleppo, Syria, September 2, 2012.
Boys play on a Syrian military tank (destroyed during fighting with the rebels), in Azaz, September 2, 2012.
A Syrian refugee hangs clothes to dry at Zaatari Refugee Camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, September 2, 2012.
Syrian barbers who fled their homes shave the heads of other displaced men at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey.
A civilian pushes a baby stroller containing his belongings as he flees the El Edaa district in Aleppo, September 2, 2012.