Syria says trade crossing with Jordan to open next month

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Syria’s transport ministry said Saturday its main border crossing with Jordan would reopen to trade next month for the first time in three years, but Amman said consultations were still ongoing.

The ministry had announced on Saturday morning that the Nassib crossing, known as Jaber on the Jordanian side, was functional.

It clarified in an afternoon statement carried by state news agency SANA that authorities had “completed logistical preparations to reopen the Nassib border crossing with Jordan on October 10”.

Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said Saturday the “Jaber- Nassib crossing remains closed,” and no goods or travellers had passed through.

“the technical meetings to open the border are ongoing. Re-opening it requires infrastructure, as well as logistical and technical standards, to be in place,” state media quoted her as saying.

Government troops retook the Syrian side of the crossing in July under a deal with rebel fighters brokered by Damascus ally Moscow.

It had been sealed completely since rebels overran it in April 2015, choking off one of the most important trade routes for the government.

The crossing was a key link not only for direct trade between the neighboring countries but also for longer-distance transit trade between Lebanon and the gulf which was a significant source of revenue.

Earlier this week, Syrian prime minister Imad Khamis said all necessary steps had been completed to reopen the crossing, with investment in new infrastructure to be paid for by a sharp hike in duties.

“This crossing will be invested according to our national interest. The customs fees were amended to achieve the interests of the Syrian state, increased from $10 to $62 for a four-ton truck,” Khamis said.

Despite retaking swathes of territory in successive Russian-backed offensives this year, Damascus still controls only half of the 19 crossings along Syria’s lengthy borders with Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

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