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Syria’s President Assad to attend Arab League summit in Jeddah: FM

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will attend the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad confirmed Assad's participation on Wednesday and said Syria “cannot be absent from any Arab summit.”

The minister is in the kingdom for a preparatory foreign ministerial meeting ahead of the summit.

Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf have also welcomed Syria’s participation. 

This year's summit in Jeddah will mark the re-admittance of Syria into the 22-member Arab League – after a 12-year suspension. Assad will take part in the summit upon an invitation from Saudi King Salman.

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

Riyadh and Damascus agreed in March to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies after more than a decade.

In April, the Saudi foreign minister met with Assad in Damascus on the first such visit since 2011.

In recent years, Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have managed to win back control of virtually all regions from terrorist groups.

Assad has already visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman and is expected to visit other Arab states as well in the near future.

The detente process began after Iran and Saudi Arabia clinched a deal to restore diplomatic relations and re-open embassies. Observers say the deal signed in China after seven years of estrangement will boost synergy among Muslim states to help resolve regional issues.

Moreover, a quadrilateral meeting among the top diplomats of Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran was recently held as part of efforts to normalize relations between Ankara and Damascus.

Israel and certain Western states have gone to great lengths to isolate Syria. Yet, a growing number of regional countries, including the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman, have expressed readiness to resume diplomatic relations with Damascus.

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