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Emirati FM makes first Syria visit since start of civil war

The United Arab Emirates embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus on December 27, 2018, after its reopening, the latest sign of efforts to bring the Syrian government back into the Arab fold. (AFP)
The United Arab Emirates embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus on December 27, 2018, after its reopening, the latest sign of efforts to bring the Syrian government back into the Arab fold. (AFP)

DAMASCUS, Syria — The United Arab Emirates’ top diplomat met Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Damascus today, state media says, in the first such visit by a top UAE official since Syria’s war began 10 years ago.

The visit is widely seen as a sign of regional efforts to end Assad’s diplomatic isolation as Syria grapples with a spiraling economic crisis caused by years of conflict and compounded by a spate of Western sanctions.

“President Assad received UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed,” and an accompanying delegation, the official SANA news agency says.

“During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries and ways to develop cooperation in different sectors that are of common interest,” SANA adds.

The UAE broke ties with Syria, which is backed by the UAE’s regional rival Iran, in February 2012, as the repression of nationwide protests demanding regime change was escalating into a devastating war.

In December 2018, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus. This was followed by the Gulf country calling in March for Syria to return to the Arab League.

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