Syria's foreign minister holds talks with Egyptian counterpart during Cairo visit

The trip is the first by a senior Syrian official in more than a decade

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, left, receives his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad at the ministry headquarters in Cairo. Egyptian Foreign Ministry
Powered by automated translation

Syria's Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Cairo on Saturday on the first visit by a senior Syrian official to Cairo in more than a decade.

Mr Mekdad was embraced by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on arrival at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry before the two sides sat down for talks.

They discussed ways of helping the Syrian people to restore their unity and sovereignty over their entire territory and face challenges that include recovery from the February 6 earthquake.

The ministers also discussed efforts towards a comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis, spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Ahmed Abu Zeid said.

Mr Shoukry reiterated Egypt’s support for a political settlement to the Syrian crisis and the efforts of the UN envoy for Syria to that end.

A comprehensive political settlement would mean an end to foreign interference in Syria, guarantee the restoration of its security and stability, preserve the integrity of its lands and sovereignty and allow the voluntary return of Syrian refugees, Mr Shoukry said at the meeting.

Mr Mekdad expressed his appreciation for Egypt’s support for Syria over the years of the crisis.

He thanked Egypt for the humanitarian and relief aid it offered in the aftermath of the quake. He said that he hoped for more Arab solidarity with Syria so that it may overcome its problems.

Mr Mekdad also reviewed the aspects of the Syrian crisis, including the economic, humanitarian and security challenges.

The ministers agreed to increase contacts and discuss the issues of mutual concern, the spokesman said.

Mr Shoukry visited Syria and Turkey in February to show Cairo's solidarity with the earthquake-stricken nations, in a move that signalled a thaw in relations with both countries.

It was the first official visit by an Egyptian foreign minister to Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011 and the first to Turkey since the breakdown in relations between Cairo and Ankara in 2013.

In Syria, Mr Shoukry met President Bashar Al Assad and Mr Mekdad.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League, which has its headquarters in Cairo, in 2011 after the Syrian government's heavy-handed response to street protests against Mr Al Assad that escalated into civil war.

The conflict has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced half the country’s population of 23 million.

Egypt has consistently called for a “political solution” in Syria and steered clear of discussing the future of Mr Al Assad, whose departure has long been demanded by some Arab leaders.

Updated: April 01, 2023, 9:33 PM