Saudi Arabia to invite Syria's Assad to Arab leaders summit

TEHRAN, Apr. 02 (MNA) – Saudi Arabia is planning to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit that Riyadh is hosting in May, three sources familiar with the plans said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan will travel to Damascus in the coming weeks to hand Assad a formal invitation to attend the summit scheduled for May 19, two sources said, Business Recorder reported.

The Saudi government’s communication office and the foreign ministries of both countries did not respond to requests for comments.

Gamal Roshdy, the spokesperson for the Arab League secretary general, said the organization is not privy to every move on the bilateral level between Arab countries.

“We are not supposed to be informed in advance about the assumed visit,” he added.

Assad’s attendance at an Arab League summit would mark the most significant development in his rehabilitation within the Arab world since 2011 when Syria was suspended from the organization. 

Syria’s return to the 22-member body would be mostly symbolic but it reflects a change in the regional approach towards the Syrian conflict. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the war, which drew in numerous foreign powers, and splintered the country.

Last month sources told Reuters Riyadh and Damascus had reached an agreement to reopen their embassies after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Saudi foreign ministry did not confirm an agreement was reached but said it was in talks with the Syrian foreign ministry to resume consular services.

Arab League heavyweight Egypt has also resumed contact with Assad. Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation on Saturday during the first official visit by a Syrian foreign minister to Cairo in over a decade.

An Egyptian security source told Reuters the visit was aimed at putting in place steps for Syria’s return to the Arab League through Egyptian and Saudi mediation.


News Code 198970


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