At least 30 civilians and 26 soldiers were killed in Syria ahead of Friday prayers, activists said, as a seven-month crackdown on pro-democracy protests becomes more violent and attacks on security forces increase.
The daily death-toll this month has been one of the highest in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Several countries oppose bringing serious pressure to bear on Assad and it looks unlikely that foreign ministers will freeze Syria’s membership of the Arab League at the Cairo meeting, officials say.
If Arab states isolated Syria, that would help Assad's sternest critics in the West gain a broader consensus for tougher sanctions and, perhaps, some form of intervention.
Saudi Arabia leads a group of Gulf states including Qatar, Oman and Bahrain that are ready to increase the pressure on Assad, an ally of their rival Iran.
The continued bloodshed on Syria's streets since the Arab Peace Plan was brokered last week seems to have done little to shift the mood in favour of tougher action.