Arab Nations Invited to Discuss Syria as Friction Eases

Tue Apr 11 2023
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JEDDAH: Arab countries have been invited to discuss relations with Syria at a meeting in Saudi Arabia this week, in a sign that efforts are underway to reduce Damascus’s long isolation.

Nine countries have been invited to the consultative meeting in Jeddah on Friday, including the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia – as well as ministers from Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.

The main objective of the summit is to discuss the situation in Syria, according to Majed Al-Ansari, a spokesperson for the Qatari foreign ministry.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been diplomatically isolated since the launch of the Syrian war in 2011, has visited Oman and the UAE over the past two months.

Last month, Saudi Arabia announced that it had started talks with the Syrian government about resuming consular services. Syria was removed from the Arab League over the crackdown on pro-democracy protests that unleashed the war.

Arab League summit expected in May

An Arab League summit is expected in May in Riyadh, and the meeting in Jeddah is seen as a precursor to that event. Ansari said that Saudi Arabia had called the “consultative summit” through the Gulf Cooperation Council and that Qatar’s stance on Syria has not changed.

Qatar has joined with the United States (US) and several European countries in rejecting any normalization with Bashar al-Assad. “There are several developments regarding the situation in Syria, and Arab nations are considering Syria’s return to the Arab League,” the spokesperson added.

Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt have been invited to the meeting as they are “concerned countries,” according to Ansari.

He said that Qatar’s Prime Minister (PM) and Foreign Minister (FM), Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani would attend the meeting, while the Iraqi government said it was reviewing the invitation.

The Gulf Cooperation Council secretariat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Negotiations “will focus on exchanging views on this issue and the standing of each Arab country on the situation” in Syria, said Ansari.

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