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Time for Syria to return to Arab states, UAE president tells Assad during visit

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The UAE president told his Syrian counterpart at a meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday that it was time for diplomatically isolated Damascus to reintegrate into the wider Arab region, state media reported.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s trip is his second visit to the oil-rich United Arab Emirates in as many years and follows a visit to Oman last month, his only official presence in the Arab country since the start of the Syrian war 2011.

Meanwhile, Arab states have increased their involvement with the Damascus government, which has been politically isolated in the region since the start of the Syrian war and was expelled from the Arab League in Cairo in 2011 for violently suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations. .

According to the official, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan told Assad during a meeting at the presidential palace that “Syria has been away from its brothers for too long and it is time to return to them.” and in the Arab environment” WAM News Agency.

The UAE president has called for efforts to facilitate the repatriation of Syrian refugees and backed engagement between Damascus and Ankara, which is now trying to reconcile with Assad after years of supporting rebels against his government, WAM reported.

– ‘Deeper Vision’ –

Abu Dhabi, which normalized relations with Assad’s government in 2018, led the aid effort after the Feb. 6 earthquake in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria killed tens of thousands.

Analysts say the diplomatic momentum generated in the aftermath of the quake could strengthen Damascus’ ties with Middle Eastern countries that have so far resisted normalization after more than a decade of war.

“The UAE’s approach and efforts toward Syria are part of a broader vision and broader approach aimed at strengthening Arab and regional stability,” said Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s senior presidential adviser.

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

“His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed confirmed this during his meeting with Assad today,” the adviser added.

During Sunday’s meeting, Assad praised the UAE’s role in strengthening ties between Arab states, according to a statement from the Syrian presidency.

The statement said the Syrian president criticized the policy of cutting off relations between Arab countries as “politically wrong principles”, arguing that relations should be “fraternal”.

– ‘Time for reconciliation’ –

Assad has rarely traveled abroad during the war, except for trips to allies Iran and Russia — where he visited again this week and met with President Vladimir Putin.

Sunday’s trip to the United Arab Emirates was Assad’s first official foreign trip accompanied by his wife Asma in more than a decade.

Earlier this month, China brokered an end to a seven-year diplomatic rupture between regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia, which backed rival sides in the Syrian war.

“Syria is no longer an arena for Saudi-Iranian confrontation, as it was at certain stages,” Assad told Russian state broadcaster RT last week, welcoming the Saudi-Iranian detente as a “surprise.” “.

“Saudi policy has taken a different direction toward Syria,” he said.

Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani met with the UAE president in Abu Dhabi on Thursday and held talks with the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnun bin Zayed Al Nahyan Al Nahyan attended Assad’s welcoming ceremony on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, who has also provided earthquake aid to Syria, said last month that consensus was building in the Arab world that a new approach to Damascus was needed to address humanitarian crises, including earthquakes.

The United Arab Emirates has pledged more than $100 million in aid to quake-hit Syria, the largest to date from any country.

It also dispatched a search and rescue team, delivered thousands of tons of emergency relief supplies and provided medical care to victims of the Syrian earthquake in UAE hospitals.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE foreign minister, last month became the first senior Arab official to visit Syria after the earthquake.

Emirati analyst Abdul Khalik Abdullah said Abu Dhabi “shares the belief of many Arab countries that now is the time to reconcile with Assad … and see Syria return to the Arab Union and the Arab States”.

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

bur-ho/jsa

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