UAE foreign minister makes first visit to Damascus since start of war

UAE foreign minister makes first visit to Damascus since start of war
The UAE's foreign minister arrived to the Syrian capital on Tuesday and met with President Bashar al-Assad, marking the first visit of a senior UAE official to Damascus since the start of the conflict in 2011
2 min read
09 November, 2021
There was no immediate confirmation from either the UAE or Syrian foreign ministries [Getty]

The United Arab Emirates foreign minister landed in Damascus on Tuesday in a sign of improving ties between President Bashar al-Assad and one of the prominent Arab states that once backed rebels trying to overthrow him.

Images showed Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed meeting with Assad shortly after a Lebanese broadcaster reported the visit. He arrived with a senior delegation, according to Al-Manar TV, which is run by Lebanon's Hezbollah paramilitary group, an Assad ally. 

A Syrian statement said the two agreed to boost ties in all sectors as Bin Zayed assured Assad of the UAE's  support for stability to Syria, adding that "he considered what happened in Syria affected all Arab countries."

Bin Zayed is the most senior Emirati dignitary to visit Syria in the decade since the eruption of a civil war in which several Arab states lined up in support of mainly Sunni Muslim rebels seeking to topple Assad.

The UAE has been at the forefront of efforts by some Arab states to normalise ties with Damascus, and called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League earlier this year. It reopened its embassy in Damascus three years ago.

The United States, a close ally of the UAE, has said it does not support any efforts to normalise ties with Assad or rehabilitate him until progress is made towards a political solution to the conflict.

Syria's conflict is believed to have killed at least half a million people, while millions more were displaced. Most of the country's infrastructure and many of its towns and villages lie in ruins. 

(Reuters contributed to this article)