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Arab League Chief Slams 'Foreign Interference' Following Talks in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby at al-Shaab presidential palace in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby at al-Shaab presidential palace in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby slammed what he called "foreign interference" in Arab affairs on Wednesday, following talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency says Elaraby told reporters in Damascus that his group does not accept outside interference in the "internal affairs of Arab countries."

His comment comes in the wake of withering U.S. criticism of President Assad and his crackdown on anti-government protests.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Assad was "losing legitimacy in the eyes of his people," and had missed "opportunity after opportunity" to present genuine reforms.

He told CBS News the Syrian government has perpetrated what he called an "unacceptable degree of brutality" on peaceful demonstrators protesting Assad's authoritarian rule.

Also Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council condemned in the "strongest terms" this week's attacks against the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.

The assaults by supporters of Assad took place after the U.S. and French ambassadors traveled to the flashpoint city of Hama last week to show solidarity with residents facing a military crackdown on dissent.

The Arab League chief stopped in Syria as part of a regional tour. News reports say he also discussed Libya's unrest and the Palestinian cause with Assad.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition activists and dissidents have wrapped up a meeting in Turkey in which they discussed the possible formation of a shadow government that would take over if the Assad government fell.  The group announced it would meet again Saturday.

In a separate development, there are conflicting reports about the cause of a fire that damaged a gas pipeline in the Tayanah area of eastern Syria.

State news reports say the fire broke out on a pipeline that was under maintenance, while residents said a bomb exploded late Tuesday at the site.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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