UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed meets Assad in Syria as relations continue to thaw
According to a statement from Assad's office, he and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed boosting economic ties between their nations.
It quoted Assad as saying that the restoration of ties between the two sides is in the interest of regional stability.
The UAE's state-run WAM news agency said they also discussed developments in Syria and the region, with Sheikh Abdullah expressing support for a political solution to end the Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011 after the brutal suppression of anti-regime protests.
The UAE foreign minister was joined by a delegation of economic and security officials.
Sheikh Abdullah's visit to Syria was his first since a November 2021 meeting with Assad that re-initiated relations.
It also comes 10 months after Assad paid a rare visit to the UAE – his first visit to an Arab state since the start of Syria's conflict. The UAE reopened its embassy in Syria in 2018.
Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League and boycotted by its neighbours after the regime brutally cracked down on pro-democracy protests which broke out in March 2011.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the country's ongoing conflict, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas. Half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million has been displaced.
Turkey will not normalise relations with the Syrian regime amid objections from the Syrian opposition, according to Ankara's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.https://t.co/OYeUFhAFVK— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) January 3, 2023
Large parts of Syria have been destroyed, and reconstruction will cost tens of billions of dollars.
With the war mostly stalemated in recent years and after Assad regained control over much of Syria's territory thanks to military assistance from Russia, Iran, and the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, Arab countries have inched closer toward restoring ties with Assad.
In June, Bahrain named its first full diplomatic mission to Syria in over a decade, while Algeria's top diplomat in a Damascus visit last July said his nation alongside other Arab countries was coordinating to restore Syria's Arab League membership.
In October 2021, Assad also had a call with Jordan's King Abdullah II, who hosted Western-backed opposition groups and hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the war.