Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Egypt’s top diplomat visits Syria and Turkey first time in decade

Egypt’s foreign minister met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday in the first visits to Syria and Turkey by a top Egyptian diplomat in a decade. “The goal of the visit is primarily humanitarian, and to pass on our solidarity – from the leadership, the government and the people of Egypt to the people of Syria,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters in Damascus. Egypt was looking forward to providing more quake assistance “in full coordination with the Syrian government” after already having donated some 1,500 tonnes, Shoukry added, standing alongside Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. “When the foreign minister of Egypt comes to Damascus, he comes to his home, his people, and his country,” Mekdad said. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/egypts-foreign-minister-visits-syria-first-time-since-war-2023-02-27/) The earthquake killed more than 5,900 people in Syria, the bulk of them in the rebel-held northwest. In Turkey, the death toll stands at more than 44,000. Assad has benefited from an outpouring of Arab support since devastating earthquakes hit his country and neighbouring Turkey this month, helping to ease the diplomatic isolation he has faced over Syria’s civil war which began in 2011. The Arab League suspended Syria in 2011 over the government’s deadly crackdown on protests, and many U.S.-allied Arab states backed the opposition seeking to topple Assad. But a number of Arab states, most prominently the United Arab Emirates, have shifted approach towards normalising ties in recent years, after Assad defeated his insurgent enemies across much of the country helped by Iran and Russia. Shoukry did not respond to reporters’ questions on whether Egypt would support lifting the Arab League’s suspension of Syria.

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