Syria has responded positively to a proposed Arab League plan aimed at ending eight months of violence, and expects the agreement to be signed soon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdesi said on Monday.

He said, however, that decisions taken by the Arab League in Syria's absence, including economic sanctions against Damascus and the suspension of its membership, should also be annulled when the protocol was signed.

He was speaking after the expiry of the latest deadline to agree an League initiative aimed at halting President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on protests in which the United Nations says more than 4,000 people have been killed.

Damascus has complained that the initiative, which includes a plan to allow observers into the country to monitor its implementation, would infringe its national sovereignty.

But it says it has been seeking clarification on the proposal and has not rejected it out of hand.

Makdesi said Syria also wanted statements by the Arab League secretary general and Qatar's prime minister opposing foreign intervention in Syria to be formally included in the agreement.

The protocol is intended to be signed soon, Makdesi told journalists in Damascus. The Syrian government has responded positively to the draft protocol.

I am optimistic, although I await the Arab League response first, he said, adding that Syria wanted the agreement to be signed in Damascus.

Last month the Arab League announced unprecedented economic sanctions against Damascus for failing to halt the violence and agree to the initiative, but it has extended the deadline for signing the agreement several times since then.

(Reporting by Marwan Makdesi; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Mark Heinrich)