Saudi Arabia is in talks with Syria to reopen its embassy in the war-torn nation for the first time in a decade, state television in the kingdom reported late Thursday, the latest diplomatic reshuffling in the region.
The announcement on state TV comes after Chinese-mediated talks in Beijing saw Saudi Arabia and Iran agree to reopen embassies in each others’ nations after years of tensions. Syrian President Bashar Assad has maintained his grip on power in the Mediterranean nation rocked by the 2011 Arab Spring only with the help of Iran and Russia, which made a historic call earlier in the day to Oman.
Saudi Arabian state television aired a report late Thursday, quoting an anonymous official in the country’s Foreign Ministry, acknowledging the talks between the kingdom and Damascus.
“A source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed to Al-Ekhbariyah that ongoing discussions have begun with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commenting on what was circulated by some international media,” an anchor said on air. “Discussions are underway between officials in the kingdom and their counterparts in Syria about resuming the provision of consular services.”
Reuters first reported on the talks Thursday, spurring the Saudi state TV announcement. The Wall Street Journal, quoting anonymous Saudi and Syrian officials, later attributed the talks to reopen the countries’ embassies to Russian mediation.