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Syria crisis

UAE foreign minister arrives in Syria, meets President Bashar al-Assad

Published: Updated:

The top Emirati diplomat met with Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Tuesday in a sign of improved relations between the UAE and Syria.

The pair discussed “exploring new horizons” for cooperation between the two countries, the Syrian presidency said. For his part, the UAE FM was quoted as saying that the UAE would stand by the Syrian people and that he believed a Syria led by al-Assad would overcome the difficulties of the war.

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Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed would be 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 foreign minister arrived with a senior delegation, according to al-Manar TV, which is run by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, an Assad ally.

The pro-government Syrian newspaper al-Watan cited unofficial media sources “talking about” his arrival.

The United Arab Emirates has been at the forefront of efforts by some Arab states to normalize 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 normalize ties with Assad or rehabilitate him until progress is made towards a political solution to the conflict.

Read more: US Republicans blast Arab states over normalization efforts with Syria’s Assad