RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister arrived in Damascus on Tuesday for talks with President Bashar Assad amid growing moves toward the readmission of Syria to the Arab community.
The visit by Prince Faisal bin Farhan was the first by a senior Saudi diplomat since relations were severed at the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
The foreign minister and the president discussed steps to “achieve a comprehensive political settlement that ... contributes to Syria’s return to the Arab fold,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.
Prince Faisal told the Syrian president it was important to provide a suitable environment for aid to reach all regions in Syria, and create the conditions for the return of Syrian refugees and displaced persons. Ending their suffering and enabling them to return safely to their homeland would contribute to stability, the minister said.
The Syrian president said: “Sound relations between Syria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia should be the norm. Such ties not only benefit the two countries, but also the Arab world and the region.”
The foreign minister’s visit to Damascus follows a trip to Jeddah last week by Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad for discussions with Prince Faisal on his country’s unity, security, stability, and territorial integrity.
The two ministers pledged to seek a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and welcomed the start of procedures for resuming consular services and flights between the two countries.
The same week, foreign ministers from the Gulf, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan held a consultative meeting in Jeddah to discuss efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis that preserved the country’s unity, security, and stability.
The ministers said “a political solution is the only solution to the Syrian crisis,” and called for unified Arab leadership on the issue.
The next day, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said the ministers sought a political solution including an Arab leadership role, developing the necessary mechanisms for this role, and intensifying consultation between Arab countries to ensure the success of these efforts.