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Top Syrian official visits Saudi Arabia as Syria-Arab ties warm up after long deep freeze: Report

10 January 2019 15:00

Syria’s National Security chief Major General Ali Mamlouk has reportedly paid a visit to Saudi Arabia, amid promising signs that the incumbent Damascus government led by President Bashar al-Assad is being admitted back into the Arab world after nearly eight years of foreign-sponsored militancy.

Mamlouk, one of Assad’s most senior advisers, visited the oil-rich conservative kingdom a few days ago and explored avenues for the rapprochement of diplomatic relations between Damascus and Riyadh, Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Joumhouria reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, added that the visit took place late last month, shortly after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain opened their embassies in the Syrian capital.

The statement also affirmed “the Kingdom’s keenness on the continuity of its relations with the Syrian Arab Republic and stresses the significance of enhancing and activating the Arab role in order to maintain Syria’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and avert the hazards of regional interference in its internal affairs and progress.”

It came a day after the UAE officially reopened its embassy in Damascus.

The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the reopening of its embassy “reaffirms the keenness of the United Arab Emirates to restore relations between the two friendly countries to their normal course.”

The United Arab Emirates embassy is pictured in the Syrian capital Damascus on December 27, 2018 after its reopening, the latest sign of efforts to bring the Syrian government back into the Arab fold. (Photo by AFP)

The move “will strengthen and activate the Arab role in supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to prevent the dangers of regional interference in Syrian Arab affairs,” the ministry pointed out.

On December 16, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab League leader to visit Damascus.

Syria’s official news agency SANA said Bashir was greeted by his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad upon arrival at Damascus International Airport, before they both headed to the presidential palace.

The two leaders discussed bilateral ties and the “situations and crises faced by many Arab countries,” the Syrian presidency said in a statement.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) receives his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir upon arrival at Damascus International Airport, Syria, on December 16, 2018. (Photo by SANA)

SANA quoted the Sudanese leader as saying during the meeting that he hoped Syria will recover its important role in the region as soon as possible.

He also affirmed Khartoum’s readiness to provide all it can to support Syria’s territorial integrity.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

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