Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Damascus on Tuesday in the most significant step yet towards ending Syria’s decade-long regional isolation, and at a time of wider rapprochement in the region.
It was the first visit of a top diplomat from Arab powerhouse Saudi Arabia to Damascus since ties were ruptured following Assad’s deadly crackdown on protesters in 2011 – violence that escalated into a decade-long civil war.
The meeting discussed steps needed for a political solution to Syria’s conflict that would preserve its Arab identity and return it to “its Arab surroundings”, Saudi state media said.
Assad said the kingdom’s “open and realistic policies” benefited the region, Syria’s state news agency reported.
The statements made no mention of an Arab League summit that Riyadh is due to host next month. On Friday, Gulf Arab foreign ministers and their counterparts from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan discussed Syria’s possible return to the body at a meeting in Saudi Arabia, but no agreement was reached.