Saudi foreign minister indicates willingness to ‘deal with’ Assad regime
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has said his country is looking for ways to "deal with" the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad after relations were cut more than a decade ago.
"We are working with our partners to find a way to deal with the government in Damascus which will present tangible steps to a political solution [in Syria]," Prince Faisal told Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the Davos summit on Thursday. "This will need some work."
Prince Faisal also discussed the crisis in Yemen at the summit, where Saudi Arabia has become embroiled in a prolonged war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, as well as the situation in the Palestinian territories.
The Saudi foreign minister met with Geir Pedersen, the UN’s envoy to Syria, and Hans Grundberg, its envoy to Yemen at Davos.
His latest comments on Syria come amid news that the Syrian regime has allowed the import of Saudi goods for the first time in years.
Saudi Arabia broke off relations with the Assad regime in 2011 after the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Syria.
Since then over 500,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, mostly at the hands of the regime and its allies. The Assad regime has, with crucial backing from Russia and Iran, managed to take control of most of Syria and the conflict has effectively become a stalemate.
At the Arab League summit in Algeria in November, Prince Faisal said that Saudi Arabia supports all Arab and international efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
Saudi Arabia however, has so far opposed the Assad regime's return to the Arab League, after its membership was suspended in 2011.
Other Gulf states such as Oman, Bahrain and the UAE have taken steps to normalise relations with the Assad regime in recent years.