Heads of Arab parliaments meet Syrian president Bashar Al Assad in Damascus

Aftermath of February 6 earthquake accelerates thawing of ties between Arab states and Damascus

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, fourth right, meets a delegation representing Arab parliaments in Damascus. AP
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A delegation of senior Arab parliamentarians met Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus on Sunday, in another sign of thawing ties after more than a decade of isolation over the conflict in Syria.

The heads of the Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, Libyan, Egyptian and UAE houses of representatives, and delegates from Oman and Lebanon, travelled to Syria as part of a group from the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union.

They met Syrian parliamentarians and Mr Al Assad, Syrian state news agency Sana reported.

"We cannot do without Syria and Syria cannot do without its Arab environment, which we hope it can return to," said Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed Halbousi.

Official UAE press agency Wam released a statement after the meeting, saying that the Speaker of the Federal National Council, Saqr Ghobash, was in attendance.

“During the meeting, Ghobash conveyed the greetings of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai,” Wam said.

“Ghobash said that the UAE, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, is always keen to ensure that its relations with countries are based on solid foundations of mutual co-operation, friendship and respect,” the statement said.

Mr Al Assad has benefitted from an outpouring of support from Arab states after the earthquake on February 6, which killed more than 5,900 people across his country, a tally of UN and Syrian government figures shows.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi spoke with Mr Al Assad by phone for the first time on February 7 and Jordan's Foreign Minister, Ayman Al Safadi, made his first trip to Damascus on February 15.

Mr Al Assad then travelled to Oman on February 20 — the first time he left Syria since the earthquake.

Updated: February 26, 2023, 6:39 PM