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Jordan’s king speaks to Syria’s Assad for first time in more than a decade

Abdullah affirmed that his country supports ‘efforts to preserve Syria’s sovereignty, stability, territorial integrity and people’

A national flag and portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are pictured in the village of Maalula, north of the Syrian capital Damascus, on June 29, 2021. (LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)
A national flag and portraits of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are pictured in the village of Maalula, north of the Syrian capital Damascus, on June 29, 2021. (LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II received a call on Sunday from Syrian President Bashar Assad, the first conversation between the two leaders after a decade of strain over Syria’s civil war.

The call comes amid efforts aimed at boosting cooperation between the two countries, which are facing challenging economic conditions.
The Jordanian royal court said the leaders discussed relations between the “brotherly countries and ways to enhance cooperation between them.”

Abdullah affirmed his country’s support for “efforts to preserve Syria’s sovereignty, stability, territorial integrity and people.”

Syria’s state news agency SANA said Assad called Abdullah to discuss bilateral relations and “reinforcing cooperation in the interests of the two countries and people.”

The call is part of a new thaw in relations between the two neighbors after the Syrian civil war. Syria is facing sanctions imposed by the United States and many western nations.

Jordan reduced diplomatic relations with Syria, like most Arab countries, following the start of the civil war there in 2011. Jordan hosted western-backed opposition groups and took in hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II speaks at Bayt Al Urdon in Amman, Jordan on May 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

Arab and Western countries generally blamed Assad for the deadly crackdown on the protests that erupted in 2011, and supported the opposition in early days of the conflict, which displaced and killed millions of people.

The tide of the war changed in late 2015, when Russia threw its military weight behind Assad.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, waves to his supporters at a polling station during the Presidential elections in Douma, Syria, May 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

The phone conversation between the two leaders also comes days after Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria, a commercial lifeline for the two nations. The crossing was reopened in 2018, and was shut again amid coronavirus restrictions, and as the security situation on Syria’s southern borders deteriorated.

Syria’s defense minister visited Jordan late last month. A 10-year old deal to transport Egyptian natural gas through Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon was also revived in September.

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