Saudi FM pays first visit to Syria in 12 years

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus on Tuesday, ending more than a decade of diplomatic deep-freeze between the two countries.
The Saudi prince arrived in Damascus on Tuesday afternoon on the first visit to Syria’s capital by a Saudi official since the start of the foreign-backed war in the country in 2011, AFP reported.
A flurry of diplomatic activity has been underway in the past week as regional relations shift following a decision by Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume ties.
The trip comes less than a week after Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad visited Saudi Arabia, also on the first such visit since the conflict began.
Last week, diplomats from nine Arab countries met in the Saudi city of Jeddah to discuss Syria’s possible return to the 22-member Arab League after Damascus was suspended in 2011.
The diplomats stressed the “importance of having an Arab leadership role in efforts to end the crisis” in Syria, according to a statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry.
Saudi Arabia severed ties with Assad’s government in 2012 and Riyadh had long openly championed Assad’s ouster, backing Syrian rebels in earlier stages of the war.


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