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Arab League Says Syria Agrees To Withdraw Military From Cities

Antiregime protesters march through the streets in the Syrian city of Homs on October 30.
The Arab League says Syria has agreed to withdraw its military from cities, along with other steps, as part of an Arab initiative to end the turmoil and bloodshed in the country.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani made the announcement after an Arab League ministerial meeting in Cairo.

"The Syrian government has agreed to the following: one, a complete halt to violence, to protect Syrian citizens; two, the release of prisoners detained during the current events; three, removing the military presence from cities and residential areas; four, allowing the Arab League and Arab and international media access to report on the situation across Syria," Thani said.

Thani added, "We are happy to have reached this agreement and we will be even happier when it is implemented immediately."

The Qatari leader said the Arab League would continue contacts between Syria's government and the opposition "in preparation for a national dialogue within two weeks."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes the Arab plan is implemented as soon as possible.

The United States, meanwhile, reiterated its call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, despite the Arab League announcement.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, "Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule and should step down."

compiled from agency reports