Jordan's king speaks with Syria's Assad for first time in decade

King Abdullah had phone call with the Syrian president on same day as flights between Amman to Damascus had been due to resume

epa07134054 A handout photo made available by Syria's Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaking during a meeting with delegations of the Executive Committee of the World Peace Council and the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) in Damascus, Syria, 31 October 2018. According to SANA, Assad said that his country has paid a 'dear price' to preserve its independence. He also said that some western countries have 'narrow interests' adding that those countries do not feel hesitant to ignite wars to achieve their interests by using extremist thoughts which were promoted by the US administration in the 1980s.  EPA/SANA HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Jordan’s King Abdullah has spoken by phone with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad for the first time in a decade, Jordan’s official news agency reported on Sunday.

In their conversation, King Abdullah expressed his support of a unified and stable neighbour, it reported.

Sunday's phone call was the first official communication between the two men since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in March 2011 and the ensuing civil war and fragmentation of the country.

“His majesty affirmed during the call Jordan’s support for the efforts to preserve Syria’s sovereignty and stability and the unity of its territory and its people,” the agency reported.

Jordan has made diplomatic and commercial moves to accommodate the Syrian regime since King Abdullah visited Moscow in August, although diplomats say there remains no regional consensus on the normalisation of relations.

Russia, Mr Al Assad’s most powerful backer, has urged Jordan and other countries in the region to normalise ties with the Assad regime since Moscow sent its military to Syria in late 2015.

After a meeting last week between Jordanian officials and a Syrian regime delegation the two sides relaxed border restrictions.

The Jordanian government also announced after the meeting that Royal Jordanian, the national carrier, would resume flights on Sunday to Damascus for the first time since 2012.

The announcement was billed in regional media as a major step toward the rehabilitation of the Syrian president.

But the flights did not resume on Sunday and a booking agent in Amman who contacted Royal Jordanian said he was told not to expect the flights to be re-activated.

The online booking system of Royal Jordanian did not list Damascus as a destination for the airline.

Royal Jordanian is majority owned by the Jordanian government.

An aviation source said that the airline cannot fly to Damascus without the US issuing the airline a waiver from US sanctions on Syria.

"It seems that the Jordanian government made a political decision that is technically difficult to realise, given the reach of the American sanctions," the source said.

Updated: October 7th 2021, 11:16 AM
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