Syria’s Assad in UAE for second Gulf visit after earthquake | Syria’s War News

The trip — al-Assad’s second to the oil-rich country in as many years — comes after a visit to Oman last month.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for his first visit to the Gulf state since the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria last month.

UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed al-Assad and his wife Asma in the capital Abu Dhabi on Sunday, official WAM news agency said, ahead of high-level meetings at the presidential palace.

Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement on Twitter that the two “have had constructive talks to develop relations between our two countries.”

“Our discussions also explored ways to enhance cooperation to accelerate stability and progress in Syria and the region,” Sheikh Mohammed added.

The trip — al-Assad’s second to the oil-rich country in as many years — comes after a visit to Oman last month. The two trips are his only official engagements in Arab countries since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.

Abu Dhabi, which normalized ties with the internationally isolated al-Assad government in 2018, has contributed to relief efforts in the wake of the February 6 earthquake that struck southeast Turkey and northern Syria, killing tens of thousands.

The Syrian Presidency said Asma will meet Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Emirati President’s mother, who is considered the “mother of the nation” in the UAE, during her first official foreign visit with al-Assad since 2011.

The visit marks a continuation of the ongoing thawing in ties between Syria and other Arab countries, more than a decade after the 22-member Arab League suspended Damascus’ membership over al-Assad’s crackdown on protesters and later civilians during the war had.

The international sympathy after the earthquake seems to have accelerated the regional rapprochement that has been simmering for years

“The UAE’s approach and efforts towards Syria are part of a deeper vision and a broader approach aimed at strengthening Arab and regional stability,” Anwar Gargash, senior adviser to the Emirati President, said on Twitter.

“The UAE’s position is clear on the need for Syria to return to its place in the Arab world and regain its legitimacy in the region,” Gargash said on Twitter.

“This was confirmed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed during his meeting with al-Assad today,” the adviser added.

The UAE has pledged more than $100 million in aid to earthquake-hit Syria, by far the largest sum by any single nation.

It has also dispatched a search and rescue team, provided thousands of tons of supplies and provided medical care to Syrian earthquake victims in hospitals across the Emirates.

And UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month became the first senior Arab official to visit Syria since the quake.

Emirati analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said Abu Dhabi “is convinced, along with many Arab states, that the time has come to be reconciled with Assad… and to see Syria return to the Arab League and the Arab fold.”

“The UAE is leading efforts to reconcile the enemies of the past and turn them into the friends of tomorrow,” Abdulla told AFP.


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