Talks between Riyadh and Damascus for a resumption of consular services

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Talks between Riyadh and Damascus for a resumption of consular services

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad

Saudi Arabia and Syria are holding talks on resuming their consular services, more than a decade after the kingdom severed ties with President Bashar Al-Assad's regime, media reports said Thursday. Saudi state officials.

Mr. Assad had been diplomatically isolated since the 2011 crackdown on a popular uprising that escalated into war. After the earthquake in Syria on February 6, Arab countries intensified their contacts and sent aid to Damascus.

Discussions are underway between officials of the kingdom and their counterparts in Syria on a resumption of consular services between the two countries, the Al-Ekhbariya channel said Thursday evening, which reported quoted a Saudi Foreign Ministry official.

This announcement comes about two weeks after that of the restoration of ties between the two rival powers in the Middle East: Iran, a great ally of Damascus, and Saudi Arabia, which had severed their diplomatic ties in 2016.

The Saudi kingdom had severed its relations in 2012 with Syria where it supported rebels at the start of the war.

But since the February 6 earthquake, Riyadh has sent aid to Syria to affected populations, both in areas under government control and in rebel areas.

Riyadh had so far avoided direct contact with Bashar al-Assad's government, preferring to coordinate with the Syrian Red Crescent for the distribution of aid destined for areas under Damascus control.

In February, a Saudi plane loaded with humanitarian aid landed in Aleppo, the country's second city, hard hit by the earthquake which also struck neighboring Turkey. It was the first Saudi plane to land in Syria since the start of the war.

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal ben Farhane, had considered necessary in February a new approach vis-à-vis Syria, involving negotiations with Damascus to deal with humanitarian crises.

The President of the United Arab Emirates declared, while receiving his Syrian counterpart on March 19 in Abu Dhabi, that it was time for Damascus to return to Arab control.

At the end of 2018, the Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus. And in March 2022, Bashar Al-Assad made his first visit to an Arab country in Abu Dhabi.

Mr. Assad, whose country was expelled from the Arab League at the end of 2011, also visited the Sultanate of Oman on February 20, a first in 12 years of war in Syria.

Oman is one of the few Arab countries, and the only one in the Gulf, to have always maintained official diplomatic relations with Damascus since the start of the war.

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