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Mauritanian President Abdel Aziz next Arab leader in line to visit Damascus

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (Photo by AFP)

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is reportedly going to pay an official visit to Syria early next year amid promising signs that the incumbent Damascus government led by President Bashar al-Assad is being admitted back into the Arab world.

Mauritania’s Arabic-language el-Jewahir daily newspaper, citing informed sources, reported on Friday that 62-year-old Abdel Aziz has decided to accept his Syrian counterpart’s invitation, and travel to Syria in the first week of next month.

The report added that officials working at the Syrian embassy in the Mauritanian capital city of Nouakchott have also confirmed the news.

On December 18, an Iraqi diplomatic source, requesting not to be named, said President Barham Salih was going to pay an official visit to Damascus.

The report came only two days after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab League leader to visit Damascus.

Visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (L) meets with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad at the presidential palace in Damascus, Syria, on December 16, 2018. (Photo by SANA)

Syria's official news agency SANA said Bashir was greeted by his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad upon arrival at Damascus International Airport, before they both headed to the presidential palace.

The two leaders discussed bilateral ties and the "situations and crises faced by many Arab countries," the Syrian presidency said in a statement.

SANA quoted the Sudanese leader as saying during the meeting that he hoped Syria will recover its important role in the region as soon as possible.

He also affirmed Khartoum’s readiness to provide all it can to support Syria's territorial integrity.

The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in November 2011, citing alleged crackdown by Damascus on opposition protests. Syria has denounced the move as "illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

On September 24, 2017, Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel urged Syria’s return to the Arab League.

Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'afari called on the Arab League to end its suspension of Syria’s membership in the 22-member pan-Arab body on March 7 last year, stressing that Arabs should reach a consensus on resolving the Syria crisis.

Speaking in an address to a meeting of foreign ministers from the regional organization in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo, Ja’afari said Syria’s absence from the Arab League could not be tolerated anymore.

Arab League does not only represent Arab governments, but also Arab nations and thus should bring an end to the Syria conflict, he pointed out.

Any weakening of an Arab country is tantamount to the weakening of all Arabs, the Iraqi diplomat said, emphasizing that if Arabs cannot unite on Syria, they can at least agree on settling the crisis there.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

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