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Syrian president arrives in UAE on official visit

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, center-left, meets UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed during an official visit to the UAE.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for an official visit, amid a recent thaw in relations between Syria and the rest of the Arab world.

Heading a Syrian delegation, Assad, accompanied by his wife Asma al-Assad, was received by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan upon his arrival at the presidential airport in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. His plane was greeted by Emirati fighter jets.

In a post on his Twitter account, Sheikh Mohammed said he had held “constructive talks” with his Syrian counterpart aimed at developing relations between the two countries.  

"Our discussions also explored ways of enhancing cooperation to accelerate stability and progress in Syria and the region," he said.

Assad’s wife, who is on her first known official visit abroad with the Syrian president since 2011, is due to meet with Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak who is the Emirati president's mother and regarded in the UAE as the "Mother of the Nation."

In March last year, Assad traveled to the UAE, in his first such visit to an Arab state since the beginning of foreign-backed violence in the country.

The trip was the latest sign of warming ties between the two countries after the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in 2018 and sent its foreign minister to visit Syria in late 2021.

The UAE cut its relations with Syria in 2012, a year after the latter found itself in the grips of rampant foreign-backed violence.

Assad’s latest trip to the UAE comes a few days after he visited Moscow at the head of a ranking delegation for high-level talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It also took place a month after a delegation from the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, visited Damascus to discuss restoration of Syria’s membership in the Arab League after more than a decade of suspension from the 22-member bloc.

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

Syria was one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945. In recent months, an increasing number of countries and political parties have called for the reversal of its suspension from the Arab League.

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