Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed’s is the first Emirati official to visit Damascus since the Syrian war broke out in 2011.
The United Arab Emirates’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed has arrived in Damascus in advance of a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Lebanese and Syrian media reports.
The Al Manar channel reported on Tuesday that the Emirati official travelled with a “large Gulf delegation” to the Syrian capital.
He met his Syrian counterpart at Damascus airport before heading to meet Assad and other Syrian officials, the Hezbollah-affiliated channel reported.
Syria’s Al Watan newspaper reported that bin Zayed had arrived as part of a delegation from the UAE
There was no immediate comment of the visit from either Syrian or Emirati officials.
Bin Zayed is the first Emirati official to visit Damascus since the 2011 uprising that escalated into a brutal, multifaceted war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, forced millions from their homes and destroyed Syria’s infrastructure.
Previously, the United Arab Emirates was one of several regional powers that backed opposition fighters in Syria’s war. With the Syrian government recapturing much of the country, Arab countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt, have made openings towards al-Assad’s government.
Last month, the Emirati economy ministry said it had agreed with its Syrian counterpart to enhance trade and economic cooperation, after the economy ministers of both countries met on the sidelines at Dubai Expo 2020.
Ties between the two countries have slowly rekindled since the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in late 2018. In March 2019, bin Zayed said the UAE intended “to ensure that Syria returns to the Arab region”. Abu Dhabi has also called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League.
Last month, al-Assad held a phone call with Jordan’s King Abdullah II – a key US ally. The conversation was preceded by the full reopening of a main border crossing between the two countries in September.