Syrian President Bashar al-Assad listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 15 March 2023. EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR GERDO

Saudi FM visits Damascus for first time since Syria war

Beirut, Apr 18 (EFE).- Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan met with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, the first visit by Saudi’s top diplomat in more than a decade.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, during a press conference after his meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (not pictured) in Cairo, Egypt, 16 December 2021. EPA-EFE/KHALED ELFIQI

The visit is the latest development in the growing Arab rapprochement toward the war-torn country after more than 10 years of frosty ties.

“President Bashar al-Assad receives Saudi foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan,” the state-run Syrian News agency (SANA) reported, giving no further details.

The Saudi foreign ministry, meanwhile, confirmed bin Farhan has arrived in the Syrian capital and was welcomed by the minister of presidential affairs Mansour Azzam at the airport.

“His Highness’ visit to Syria comes within the framework of the Kingdom’s keenness and interest to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that ends all its repercussions and preserves Syria’s unity, security, stability, and its Arab identity,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.

The visit comes less than a week after Syrian foreign minister Faisal Mikdad headed to Saudi Arabia, also for the first time since the conflict erupted in 2011.

Syria was suspended from the 22-member Arab League in 2011 over the Syrian government’s crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising that soon evolved into civil war. Several nations in the Middle East and North Africa severed ties with Syria in the wake of the conflict for the same reason.

However, a number of countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, have taken steps toward an apparent rapprochement with the Syrian government since devastating earthquakes rocked large areas of Syria and Turkey in February.

Saudi Arabia is scheduled to resume consular services in Syria in the coming weeks. EFE