Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed’s is the first Emirati official to visit Damascus since the 2011 Syrian war broke out.

The United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed has arrived in Damascus ahead of a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Lebanese and Syrian media reports.

The Al Manar channel reported on Tuesday that the Emirati official had traveled to the Syrian capital with a “large Gulf delegation”.

He met his Syrian counterpart at Damascus airport before heading to meet with Assad and other Syrian officials, the Hezbollah-affiliated channel reported.

Syria’s Al Watan newspaper reports that bin Zayed arrived as part of a UAE delegation

There were no immediate comments on the visit of Syrian or Emirati officials.

Bin Zayed is the first Emirati official to visit Damascus since the 2011 uprising that escalated into a brutal, multifaceted war that killed hundreds of thousands of people, forced millions out of their homes and destroyed Syria’s infrastructure.

Previously, the United Arab Emirates was one of several regional powers that supported opposition fighters in Syria’s war. With the Syrian government recapturing much of the country, Arab countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt have opened up to al-Assad’s government.

Last month, the Emirati Ministry of Economy said it had agreed with its Syrian counterpart to improve trade and economic cooperation, after the economists of both countries met on the sidelines at Dubai Expo 2020.

Ties between the two countries have slowly flared up again since the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in late 2018. In March 2019, bin Zayed said the UAE intended “To ensure that Syria returns to the Arab region”. Abu Dhabi has also called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League.

Last month, al-Assad held a telephone call with Jordan’s King Abdullah II – a key US ally. The talks were preceded by the full reopening of a main border crossing between the two countries in September.

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