UAE becomes 1st Arab country in a decade to welcome Syria’s Assad
Damascus, Mar 18 (EFE).- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met Friday with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, emir of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, on his first visit to an Arab country since conflict erupted in Syria in 2011.
Al Maktoum received Assad in one of his residences in Dubai and the discussion took place “in the framework of the fraternal relations between the two countries,” the Syrian government said.
Assad and Al Maktoum “dealt with the overall relations between the two countries and the prospects for expanding the circle of bilateral cooperation, especially at the economic, investment and commercial levels,” Syrian state news agency SANA said.
WAM, the official Emirati news agency, said that Assad also met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, regarded as the de-facto ruler of the UAE.
The UAE severed ties with Damascus in 2012, but diplomatic links were restored in 2018 and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan traveled to Syria last year.
Recent months have seen a number of Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, take cautious steps toward normalization with Syria.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the UAE government has been active in efforts to broker a cease-fire, including several trips to Moscow by the foreign minister.
Damascus is closely aligned with Russia, whose 2015 military intervention in Syria was crucial in enabling Assad’s government to remain in power. EFE rz-sr-njd/dr