Syria’s Bashar Al Assad invited to Arab League summit in Jeddah by King Salman

Move comes a day after Saudi Arabia said its diplomatic mission was resuming work in Syria

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Jordan Nayef bin Bandar Al Sudairi hands Syrian President Bashar Al Assad an invitation to attend the 32nd session of the Arab League in the kingdom on May 19. Photo: Saudi Embassy in Jordan
Powered by automated translation

Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Wednesday formally invited Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad to attend a meeting of the Arab League Council in Jeddah later this month.

The invitation to the May 19 summit in Jeddah was delivered by Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Nayef bin Bandar Al Sudairi, the Syrian presidency and the kingdom's state media said separately.

The invitation came hours after Saudi Arabia said it was resuming diplomatic relations with Syria that were severed after the start of the civil war over a decade ago and just days after the league voted to readmit Mr Al Assad to the bloc.

Mr Al Assad said the summit "will enhance joint Arab action to achieve the aspirations of the Arab peoples", the statement added.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that reestablishing ties showed Saudi Arabia's keenness to contribute to developing joint Arab action on Syria and boosting security and stability in the region.

In April, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met Mr Al Assad in Damascus on the first such visit since the war broke out.

The kingdom cut ties with Mr Al Assad's government in 2012, shortly after the 22-member Arab League suspended Syria in November 2011 over its crackdown on protests that escalated into a war that has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and battered the country's infrastructure and industry.

The Arab League voted on Sunday to reinstate Syria after a 12-year suspension.

A statement announcing the Arab League's decision said it was taken to contribute to the end of the suffering of the Syrian people and “realise their legitimate future aspirations”.

It also called for a leading Arab role in taking steps to resolve all aspects of the Syrian crisis, including security, humanitarian and political issues.

The last Arab League summit Mr Al Assad attended was in 2010 in Libya.

Mr Al Assad has been politically isolated in the region since the war began, but a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent weeks – after a decision to resume ties by Saudi Arabia and Iran, a close ally of Damascus – shifted the political landscape.

Updated: May 10, 2023, 1:37 PM