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Italian delegation due in Damascus to revive diplomatic relations

General Alberto Manenti, the president of Italy’s External Intelligence and Security Agency

An Italian delegation is going to pay an official visit to Damascus over the weekend in order to prepare the ground for the restoration of diplomatic relations between Italy and Syria.

President of Italy’s External Intelligence and Security Agency General Alberto Manenti, who will be heading the delegation, and his entourage will arrive at the Damascus International Airport on Saturday.

They will hold “negotiations concerning the normalization of Italy-Syria bilateral relations, the abolition of European Union (EU) embargos as conditioned by the Syrian government for any possible security cooperation” with high-ranking Syrian officials, Russia al-Youm television reported.

The Italian delegation has already pledged to pave the way for EU-Syria rapprochement as soon as possible.

Earlier this year, a high-ranking Syrian security delegation visited Italy. The delegates, led by head of the Syrian General Security Directorate Mohammed Dib Zaitoun, met and exchanged viewpoints with a number of Italian officials.

European countries have recently approached the Damascus government in search of avenues for the resumption of security cooperation against terrorism, access to the name lists of Takfiri European militants wreaking havoc in Syria, as well as information about potential terrorist attacks once they return home.

This file photo shows a view of the European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium.

Meanwhile, an unnamed source at the Syrian Ministry of Information said a European Parliament delegation will travel to Damascus within the next few days.

The source said that the legislators will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and a number of personalities representing opposition movements during their two-day visit, which marks the first of its kind ever since foreign-sponsored militancy plagued Syria more than five years ago.

The delegation, which will be headed by Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, will be officially received during a ceremony at the Syrian-Lebanese border.

The lawmakers will visit Hamish Hospital in Damascus and a refugee camp before a meeting with Speaker of the People’s Council of Syria, Hadiya Khalaf Abbas.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.

While most European countries have been voicing opposition to the government of President Assad, some of them are gradually making a shift in their policies as they realize the importance of Damascus’ efforts in fighting terrorism.

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