Syrian foreign minister visits Oman as countries bolster ties with visa agreement

Syrian foreign minister visits Oman as countries bolster ties with visa agreement
The Syrian regime and Omani have further strengthened relations.
3 min read
22 March, 2021
Oman and Syria's foreign ministers signed agreements during the meeting [Getty]
Syria's foreign minister met leading Omani officials in Muscat this weekend, in a sign of strengthening relations between the two countries.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mekdad embarked on a tour of the sultanate to meet key government figures as Damascus seeks to normalise ties with Arab states after a decade in the cold.

Sayyid Asaad bin Tarik al Said, deputy prime minister for international relations and cooperation affairs and one of Oman's most senior royals, held talks with Al-Mekdad on Sunday.

"The two sides exchanged cordial conversations and reviewed the bilateral relations between the Sultanate and the Syrian Arab Republic," Oman's official news agency reported.

"They also discussed aspects of the existing cooperation between them to serve the common interests of the two countries and their brotherly peoples."

The Syrian foreign minister also met Minister of the Royal Court General Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Numani to discuss ties between the two countries.

On his final day in Damascus, Al-Mekdad was seen off by Oman's Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al-Busaidi after signing agreements on visa-free travel for diplomats and other special passport holders.

The cash-strapped Syrian regime has sought to normalise relations with Arab countries to strengthen its standing in the region and bring in much-needed investment.

Relations between Oman and Syria have remained cordial despite the regional hostility to Damascus.

Muscat joined other Gulf states by withdrawing its ambassador from Damascus in 2012 after the regime's brutal crackdown on protests and opposition areas.

Unlike many other Arab countries, Oman still maintained diplomatic relations with Syria throughout the war and refused to support the opposition.

In 2020, Oman became the first Gulf state to reinstate its ambassador to Damascus.

Former Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem visited Muscat during the war, while Oman's former Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi also paid trips to Damascus, including an audience with Bashar Al-Assad in 2015.

The UAE also recently rekindled official ties with the Syrian regime, reopening its embassy in Damascus in 2018 and providing Covid aid.

The Syrian war broke out in 2011 when peaceful protests were brutally suppressed, sparking an armed revolt against regime rule.

The conflict has killed between 370,000 and 500,000 people, the vast majority civilians - victims of regime bombing and artillery.

Hospitals, homes, bakeries and other civilian infrastructure in opposition areas have been targeted by the regime.

Suspected Russian bombers targeted fuel and aid supplies in opposition areas on Monday, while a hospital in Aleppo was also targeted by regime artillery killing patients, including at least one child, and injuring medical staff.

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