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Archive for Syria

Newsline: Syrian top diplomat visits key ally Iraq

Syria’s foreign minister discussed humanitarian aid and combating the illegal drugs trade with key ally Iraq during a visit to Baghdad as Damascus emerges from years of diplomatic isolation. During the visit, Mekdad met with Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani and conveyed “an invitation to visit Damascus” on an unspecified date, a statement from the Iraqi premier’s office said. Baghdad was “one of the initiators” of Syria’s return to the Arab League, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said in a joint press conference with Mekdad. The two also discussed the issue of Syrian refugees who fled the country after war erupted, many of whom now live in Iraq as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. (https://news.yahoo.com/syrian-top-diplomat-discusses-aid-113003712.html) The visit by Faisal Mekdad comes weeks after the Arab League agreed to end Syria’s suspension from the 22-member bloc, bringing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime back into the regional fold after years of civil war. Iraq remained an ally of Damascus throughout the wider Arab boycott, never severing relations and maintaining close cooperation during Syria’s civil war, particularly over the fight against the Islamic State group.

Newsline: Saudi diplomats arrive in Syria for embassy reopening

A Saudi Arabian team arrived in Damascus to discuss mechanisms for reopening the embassy in Syria, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced on Twitter. The Saudi technical team concerned with reopening the Saudi embassy in Syria has arrived in the capital, Damascus, in implementation of the Kingdom’s decision to resume work in its diplomatic mission in Baghdad. The Saudi Press Agency, “SPA”, stated that the Saudi technical team met with the Assistant Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs. (https://en.mehrnews.com/news/201261/Saudi-team-arrives-in-Syria-for-embassy-reopening) During the meeting, the head of the Saudi team expressed his thanks to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the warm welcome the team received and facilitating access procedures, while Dr. Soussan expressed their welcome, readiness and readiness to provide all facilities and support to facilitate the mission of the Saudi team, according to “SPA”. Saudi Arabia recently announced the resumption of the work of its diplomatic mission in Syria, taking into account the decision issued by the meeting of foreign ministers of Arab countries to return Syria to its seat in the League of Arab States.

Newsline: US top diplomat says Washington engaged with Syria on case of missing American journalist

The United States is extensively engaged on the case of a U.S. journalist who disappeared a decade ago, including with Syria and other countries, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “We’re extensively engaged with regard to Austin – engaged with Syria, engaged with third countries – seeking to find a way to get him home. And we’re not going to relent until we do,” Blinken said in a Washington Post interview on Wednesday. (https://neuters.de/world/blinken-says-us-engaged-with-syria-case-missing-american-journalist-austin-tice-2023-05-03/) Austin Tice, a former U.S. Marine and a freelance journalist, was kidnapped in August 2012 while reporting in Damascus on the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He was 31 at the time. His family believes he is alive and still being held in Syria. The identity of Tice’s captors is not known, and there has been no claim of responsibility for his abduction. President Joe Biden last year said Washington knows “with certainty” that Tice has at times been held by the Syrian government. Syria’s government has denied kidnapping or holding Tice. The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that the Biden administration has renewed direct talks with Syria over Tice’s case and those of other Americans, citing Middle East officials familiar with the efforts.

Newsline: Jordan to host foreign ministers’ talks on Syria’s return to Arab League

Jordan will host a meeting of Arab foreign ministers and Syria’s top diplomat on Monday to discuss Syria’s return to the Arab League as part of a broader political settlement of Syria’s more than decade-old conflict, officials said. The meeting, to be attended by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his counterparts from Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, would discuss a Jordanian plan to achieve a political settlement of the conflict, Jordanian government officials said. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/jordan-host-talks-syrias-return-arab-league-2023-04-30/) The meeting comes two weeks after talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia between the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, failed to reach agreement on Syria’s possible return to the Arab fold. It is the first such meeting with a top Syrian official by a group of Arab states – most of whom endorsed the move to suspend Syria’s membership of the League in 2011. Arab states and those most affected by the conflict are trying to reach consensus on whether to invite Assad to the Arab League summit on May 19 in Riyadh, to discuss the pace of normalising ties with Assad and on what terms Syria could be allowed back. Officials said the Jordanian initiative calls on Damascus to engage with Arab governments collectively on a step-by-step road map to end the conflict.

Newsline: Tunisia appoints new ambassador to Syria

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on Thursday appointed a new ambassador to Syria, the Tunisian presidency said in a statement, the latest Arab move to end Syria’s regional isolation. (https://neuters.de/world/tunisian-president-appoints-new-ambassador-syria-presidency-2023-04-27/) Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago to protest Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 that developed into civil war in which hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and millions sent fleeing.

Newsline: Saudi top diplomat visits Damascus easing Syria’s isolation

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus in the most significant step yet towards ending Syria’s decade-long regional isolation, and at a time of wider rapprochement in the region. The meeting discussed steps needed for a political solution to Syria’s conflict that would preserve its Arab identity and return it to “its Arab surroundings”, Saudi state media said. Assad said the kingdom’s “open and realistic policies” benefited the region, Syria’s state news agency reported. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/saudi-fm-land-syria-tuesday-first-visit-since-conflict-syrian-information-2023-04-18/) The statements made no mention of an Arab League summit that Riyadh is due to host next month. On Friday, Gulf Arab foreign ministers and their counterparts from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan discussed Syria’s possible return to the body at a meeting in Saudi Arabia, but no agreement was reached. It was the first visit of a top diplomat from Arab powerhouse Saudi Arabia to Damascus since ties were ruptured in 2011.

Newsline: Saudi Arabia, Syria’s top diplomats welcome thaw in ties

Saudi Arabia and Syria’s foreign ministers welcomed a thaw in bilateral ties, including steps to resume consular services and flights, and agreed to cooperate to fight drug trafficking and facilitate Syria’s return to the Arab fold. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad landed in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah on Wednesday in the first visit by a senior Syrian diplomat to the kingdom in more than a decade, a major sign that Syria’s regional isolation is nearing an end. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/isolated-syrias-fm-arrives-saudi-arabia-landmark-visit-2023-04-12/) Gulf heavyweight Saudi Arabia cut ties with Damascus amid Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in 2011, and backed rebel groups that fought to remove Assad from power. Syria was also suspended from the Arab League. The resumption of Saudi-Syrian ties marks the most significant development in moves by Arab states to normalize links with Assad. It comes weeks after Mekdad met with the top diplomats of Egypt and Jordan, also for the first time in over a decade.

Newsline: Syria, Tunisia to exchange ambassadors

Syria and Tunisia will reopen their respective embassies, the two countries said on Wednesday, almost a decade after Tunis severed ties. On Wednesday, Syria’s government said in a statement it had accepted the appointment of a Tunisian ambassador in Damascus and would reopen its own embassy in Tunis with a new envoy there as well. (https://news.yahoo.com/syria-tunisia-exchange-ambassadors-end-121431936.html) The announcement further chipped away at Syria’s isolation in the Arab world arising from its decade-long civil war, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, drew in numerous foreign powers and splintered the country, destabilising the wider region. Tunisia reopened a limited diplomatic mission in Damascus in 2017, in part to help track more than 3,000 Tunisian Islamist militants fighting in Syria.

Newsline: Tunisia to appoint new ambassador in Damascus

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied ordered his foreign affair minister to initiate procedures that would appoint a new ambassador in the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Tunisian presidency said, the latest Arab move to end Syria’s regional isolation. (https://neuters.de/world/tunisia-starts-procedures-appointment-new-ambassador-damascus-2023-04-03/) Saudi Arabia is planning to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit that Riyadh is hosting in May, three sources familiar with the plans said last week. Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago.Tunisia reinstituted a limited diplomatic mission to Syria in 2017, in part to help track more than 3,000 Tunisian militants fighting in Syria.

Newsline: Syrian and Iranian diplomats hold talks in Moscow

Talks between the Syrian delegation headed by Ayman Sousan and the Iranian delegation headed by Ali Asghar Khaji, Senior Adviser to the Iranian Foreign Minister for Special Political Affairs, began at the Syrian Embassy in Moscow. The talks are being held at the headquarters of the Syrian Embassy in Moscow in the presence of the Syrian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Bashar Al-Jaafari. (http://syriatimes.sy/sy-rian-and-iranian-delegations-hold-talks-at-the-sy-rian-embassy-in-moscow/) Sousan arrived at Moscow to take part in the in the quartet meeting of the assistant foreign ministers of Syria, Russia, Iran and Turkey. In response to a question by the representative of the Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, Sousan indicated that the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic will hold bilateral consultations with the Russian and Iranian sides on April 3, and on the next day, April 4; it will participate in the quartet meeting. Sousan added that the delegation will focus specifically on ending the Turkish military presence on Syrian territory, combating terrorism, and non-interference in Syrian internal affairs.