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Syria’s Assad in UAE marks ongoing thaw in ties

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, his first visit to the wealthy Gulf state since last month’s devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Assad arrived in the UAE with his wife Asma and a delegation of Syrian officials and was received by UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to a statement from Assad’s office .

Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement on Twitter that the two “had constructive talks aimed at developing the relationship between our two countries.”

The visit marks a continuation of an ongoing thaw in relations between Syria and other Arab states that has been suspended for more than a decade by Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters and later civilians during the war. Membership of Damascus.

International sympathy after earthquake appears to have Accelerate the process of regional reconciliation That’s been years in the making. Before the tragedy, the UAE had re-established ties with Damascus. Assad visited the UAE for the first time since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 last year and again in January.

The UAE foreign minister visited Damascus after the quake, and the Gulf state sent dozens of aid shipments to Syria.

Damascus hopes regional reconciliation will free up long-awaited funds to rebuild the devastated country. However, analysts say it is unlikely to happen on a large scale for now.

One major hurdle: Syria’s failure to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2254, adopted in December 2015 as a road map for peace in Syria. Acceptance of the roadmap is a key demand for the US and EU to normalize relations with Damascus.

The World Bank said on Sunday that it expects real gross domestic product to contract by 5.5 percent in 2023 after the earthquake in Syria, with an estimated $3.7 billion in physical damage and $1.5 billion in economic damage, for an estimated total impact of $5.2 billion. This is on top of the damage done by the 12 years of war.

“Given limited public resources, weak private investment, and limited humanitarian access to affected areas, economic growth could contract further if reconstruction progresses slower than expected,” the bank said in a statement.



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