Syria top diplomat visits Egypt in first since war


Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad in Cairo on Saturday, the first time since Syria’s civil war began more than a decade ago, Shoukry’s office said.

The meeting comes amid growing Arab involvement with the Damascus government, which has been politically isolated in the region since the start of the war in Syria and was expelled from the Cairo-based Arab League in 2011 for its bloody crackdown on pro-government demonstrations. democracy.

Mekdad’s visit to Cairo is the “first time in more than 10 years” for Syria’s top diplomat and saw a closed-door meeting between the two ministers followed by discussions between the two countries’ delegations, Egypt’s foreign ministry said.

Several Arab countries rushed to aid Syria after an earthquake on February 6 killed thousands in the war-torn country and neighboring Turkey.

At the time, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in an unprecedented show of support since Sisi took office in 2014.

The top diplomats of the two countries also spoke on the phone after the earthquake.

Shoukry then visited Damascus and met with Assad on February 27 on the first such trip in more than a decade.

The talks on Saturday focused on “supporting the Syrian people to restore (the country’s) unity and sovereignty over its entire territories”, the Egyptian ministry said in a statement.

Shoukry called for a “comprehensive political settlement of the Syrian crisis”, reiterating Cairo’s support for the UN envoy’s special efforts to resolve the conflict.

The two ministers also agreed “to strengthen communication channels” between their countries, the statement said.

Unlike other Arab governments, Cairo did not completely cut ties with Damascus after the war, but relations were downgraded.

But after the earthquake, heavyweights like Saudi Arabia began sending aid to Syria, followed by talks between Riyadh and Damascus to resume consular services.

The United Arab Emirates is leading the charge to bring Syria back into the Arab fold, with President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan saying last month that “the time has come” to re- integrate into the wider region.

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