Syrian Foreign Minister arrives in Saudi Arabia for talks

Faisal Mekdad and top Saudi diplomat will discuss peaceful solution to Syrian crisis

Faisal Mekdad was received by Saudi Arabia's deputy foreign minister, Waleed Al Khuraiji, in Jeddah. SPA
Powered by automated translation

Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in the city of Jeddah on Wednesday at the invitation of his Saudi counterpart, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said, on the first such trip since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Mr Mekdad will hold a session of talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria that preserves its unity, security and stability, said Saudi news agency Spa.

They will also discuss the means of enabling the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland and securing humanitarian access to the affected areas in Syria.

The talks will also tackle bilateral relations and issues of common concern, Syrian state media reported.

Mr Mekdad was received by Saudi deputy foreign minister Waleed Al Khuraiji at King Abdulaziz International Airport.

The visit came as Saudi Arabia prepared to host a meeting of regional foreign ministers on Friday to discuss Syria's return to the Arab League. The country was suspended from the 22-member group in 2011.

Ministers from the Gulf Co-operation Council countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — as well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, have been invited to meet in Jeddah on Friday, said Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari.

Also on Wednesday, the Saudi Foreign Minister received a call from UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen.

During the call, Prince Faisal and Mr Pedersen discussed ways to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Prince Faisal said Saudi Arabia would exert all efforts to reach a political solution, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

Regional efforts have increased during the past few weeks to re-engage with Syria and reduce its isolation from the Arab world following its decade-long civil war.

Saudi Arabia plans to invite Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to the Arab League summit in Riyadh on May 19, Reuters said.

Mr Al Assad has visited the UAE and Oman this year. Last month, Saudi Arabia said it has started talks with Damascus about resuming consular services.

The resumption of ties between Saudi Arabia and Syria would be the most significant development yet in moves by Arab states to normalise ties with Mr Al Assad.

The majority of Arab and western states cut ties with Mr Al Assad's government after Syria’s war began in 2011.

Updated: April 12, 2023, 4:49 PM