DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian President Bashar Assad thanked the United Arab Emirates for its emergency response and tens of millions pledged in aid to the quake-hit country, the presidency says.
“The UAE was among the first countries that stood with Syria and sent huge relief and humanitarian aid and search and rescue teams,” Assad says during a meeting in Damascus with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Nahyan arrived in Syria today, six days after a devastating earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing more than 33,000 people in total, including over 3,500 in Syria.
The minister also toured quake-hit areas in western Syria, according to UAE’s official news agency, WAM.
A Syrian pro-regime newspaper shared images of the Emirati minister in the coastal city of Jableh, among the worst hit by the quake and where the Emirati search and rescue team has been based since Friday.
The minister’s visit is the first by a senior Gulf official since the 7.8-magnitude quake hit.
Nahyan says the UAE remains “committed to standing by the brotherly people of Syria and providing the required support and assistance,” according to WAM.
The UAE minister last visited Damascus in January, when he also met Assad, on a trip that signaled warming ties with war-torn Syria after years of strained relations.
The UAE pledged some $13.6 million to Syria after the disaster before announcing another $50 million in assistance.
The oil-rich Gulf nation has dispatched planes to Turkey and Syria with emergency aid, food, medical supplies, and rescue teams.