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Chinese vice premier arrives on three-day visit Weight competing Gulf interests in terminal deal

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Damascus on Tuesday, kingdom media said, ending greater than a decade of diplomatic deep-freeze between the two international locations.Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s experience — the first visit to Syria’s capital by means of a Saudi legitimate since the start of the country’s civil struggle in 2011 — marks a brand new technology in ties between Iran-subsidized Damascus and Riyadh.

“Sound relations between Syria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia must be the norm,” country news corporation SANA quoted Assad as pronouncing for the duration of the meeting.

“Such ties not simplest benefit the 2 nations, however also the Arab global and the place,” he said consistent with the record, commending an “outward-looking and sensible” Saudi approach.

Assad turned into politically isolated inside the location because the warfare started, however a flurry of diplomatic activity has been underway in past weeks as a choice by using Saudi Arabia and Iran, a close best friend of Damascus, to resume ties shifted regional family members.

Assad and Prince Faisal discussed steps to “reap a complete political agreement that… Contributes to Syria’s go back to the Arab fold,” the Saudi overseas ministry stated in a assertion.

The pinnacle diplomat informed Assad it changed into essential to “create the correct conditions for the return of refugees and the displaced” and for resource to attain all Syrian regions, in step with the declaration.

The meeting comes less than every week after Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad visited Saudi Arabia, also on the first such visit because the war commenced.

Last week, diplomats from 9 Arab countries met inside the Saudi town of Jeddah to speak about ending Syria’s long spell in the diplomatic wasteland and its possible return to the 22-member Arab League after Damascus become suspended in 2011.

The diplomats burdened the “importance of getting an Arab leadership function in efforts to cease the disaster” in Syria, consistent with a statement by using the Saudi foreign ministry.

Saudi Arabia severed ties with Assad’s government in 2012 and Riyadh had lengthy brazenly championed Assad’s ouster, backing Syrian rebels in earlier stages of the conflict.

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Arab outreach

Several Arab countries also reduce ties with Syria as some powers guess on Assad’s demise, however nearby capitals have steadily been warming to Assad as he has clawed lower back most of the territory misplaced to rivals.

The United Arab Emirates, which re-hooked up ties in past due 2018, has been main the charge to reintegrate Damascus into the Arab fold.

A February 6 earthquake that wreaked devastation in Turkey and Syria sparked Arab outreach to Assad’s government, and the surprise rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran turned into introduced the subsequent month.

Assad himself has visited each Oman and the United Arab Emirates since the deadly quake.

This month, Syria’s foreign minister visited Algeria and Tunisia at the heels of journeys to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in a diplomatic push.

The Saudi overseas minister had said in February that a consensus become constructing in the Arab global that a brand new technique to Syria requiring negotiations with Damascus would be needed to deal with humanitarian crises.

Riyadh despatched resource to both rebellion-held and government-controlled elements of Syria, but the attempt did now not contain direct contact with Assad’s authorities.

In March, Saudi nation media had stated that Riyadh and Damascus had been in talks on resuming consular services.

Regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have supported opposing facets in numerous regional war zones together with Yemen, and also vie for impact in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

During a trip to Moscow final month, Assad instructed broadcaster Russia Today that “Syria is now not a scene of Saudi-Iran battle”.

Syria’s war has killed more than 1/2 a million human beings, even as round half of of the united states’s pre-warfare population has been compelled from their homes.

Assad hopes normalisation with rich Gulf states should deliver monetary comfort and money for reconstruction, as broader global funding stays elusive without a United Nations-sponsored political settlement to the war.

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