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Several Western Countries Expected to Reopen Embassies in Syria

A number of European countries are expected to reopen diplomatic missions in Damascus in the “near future” after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won a landslide re-election victory last week, Western diplomatic sources in the Arab country said.

Syria’s al-Watan daily, citing the sources, reported that diplomats from Greece, Hungary and Serbia have already arrived in Damascus, and preparations are underway to reopen their embassies.

Italy, the source also said, has recently agreed to accredit a Syrian diplomat as a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, and he may arrive there soon to carry out his duties.

On Sunday, Syria’s Bar Association signed a contract with the Embassy of Cyprus to lease a building in the upscale Abu Rummaneh neighborhood to the Cypriot side to reopen its embassy in Damascus.

Earlier, Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Faisal al-Miqdad said several embassies had already resumed their operations in Damascus, and more Arab and Western embassies will reopen within the next few days.

“We will not allow the United States to abort the opening of the embassies,” Miqdad pointed out.

“We are on the course of mending Arab-Arab relations… Russian friends and others are making efforts in this regard. Meetings are taking place, but with regard to the situation between Arab countries, we do not hide anything. We are optimistic that there will be steps in this field,” he added.

Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media adviser to President Assad, told Sham FM radio station on May 26 that efforts were underway to improve diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia after more than a decade of estrangement between the two Arab nations.

“Efforts are being made to upgrade ties with Saudi Arabia, and may soon have positive results,” Shaaban said.

She also hailed the recent visit by Syrian Tourism Minister Mohammed Rami Martini to Saudi Arabia in the first such trip by a Syrian minister to the kingdom in recent years.

Martini traveled to Riyadh to attend the 47th meeting of the World Tourism Organization Committee for the Middle East on May 26 and 27, according to official Syrian news agency SANA.

His visit came upon an official invitation from the Saudi Tourism Ministry and the World Tourism Organization Committee for the Middle East for Martini to participate in the meeting, SANA added.

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