Jordanian Foreign Minister meets Syrian President in Damascus after earthquake

Rapprochement between Jordan and Syrian authorities has faltered in recent years over narcotics smuggling

Destroyed buildings in the village of Jenderes in the northern countryside of Aleppo, Syria. Moawia Atrash / The National
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Follow the latest news on the earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al Safadi met President Bashar Al Assad on Wednesday during a short visit to Damascus aimed at showing solidarity with the country after last week's earthquake, Jordanian state TV said.

The trip represents the most senior visit by a Jordanian civilian official to Syria since the 2011 revolt against five decades of Assad family rule.

A crackdown by security forces on the peaceful pro-democracy movement that killed thousands of civilians prompted Jordan and most other Arab countries to shun Damascus. The Arab League suspended Syria's membership in November of the same year.

In recent years, however, some Arab countries have begun to restore ties with Damascus.

Jordan's official media framed the visit in humanitarian terms.

But a statement from the Syrian President's office quoted him as telling Mr Al Safadi that the Syrian people “welcome any positive positions towards them, especially from brotherly Arab countries”.

Mr Al Safadi also met Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

“We discussed our bilateral relations and efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis that ends this catastrophe,” he said, after meeting Mr Mekdad at Damascus airport.

Mr Al Safadi left Damascus to travel to Turkey on Wednesday. In the city of Hatay, he visited the site of a destroyed building where it is believed that two Jordanian nationals were buried under the rubble.

Jordan has sent aid planes and medical teams to Turkey and to Syrian regime-held areas after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit south-east Turkey and areas in northern Syria.

Territory controlled by the government and by rebels ― who have been fighting for more than a decade ― has been heavily damaged, but most of the destruction is concentrated in the rebel-held north.

In 2021, Russia mediated a rapprochement between the Syrian government and Jordan. The kingdom has been trying over the past four years to curb an increased flow of narcotics, particularly the stimulant known as Captagon, from Syrian regime-held areas. The rapprochement lost momentum when the drug trafficking showed no signs of abating.

Updated: February 15, 2023, 3:23 PM