Saudi Arabia and Syria in talks to re-establish ties: Report

The report did not provide a timetable for the move, which would be the latest Saudi effort to heal fences with regional enemies.

Saudi Arabia and Syria are discussing the resumption of consular services, according to Saudi official media, more than a decade after the Gulf kingdom severed relations with President Bashar al-dictatorship.

“A discussion is underway between officials in the kingdom and their counterparts in Syria about resuming the provision of consular services,” state-affiliated channel Al-Ekhbariya said, citing a Saudi foreign ministry official.

The report did not provide a timetable for the move, which would be the latest Saudi effort to heal fences with regional enemies.

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Earlier this month, a Chinese-brokered agreement was revealed to restore diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which had been cut for seven years.

For weeks, Riyadh has hinted at a reconciliation with Syria.

In the aftermath of a massive earthquake that slammed southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6, killing tens of thousands of people, it provided relief to both rebel-held and government-controlled areas of the nation.

The efforts did not entail direct communication with Assad’s internationally isolated administration, and Saudi officials instead organised supplies into government-controlled areas via the Syrian Red Crescent.

After the earthquake, Damascus has witnessed more Arab participation, especially from countries that have so far rejected normalisation after more than a decade of conflict.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated in February that the Arab world was coming to the conclusion that a new strategy for Syria would be required, involving dialogue with Damascus in order to solve humanitarian concerns.

“There is a consensus within the Arab world that the status quo is not working and that we need to find some other approach. What that approach is, is still being formulated” Prince Faisal told the Munich Security Conference.

According to the Saudi foreign minister, policy changes in Syria might benefit Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, particularly Jordan and Lebanon.

Emirati official media said that Assad visited the UAE on Sunday, when President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan informed him that it was time for Damascus to be reintegrated into the larger Arab area.

The visit is Assad’s second to the oil-rich UAE in as many years, following a visit to Oman last month, his only formal engagements in Arab nations since Syria’s civil conflict began in 2011.

Syria was kicked out of the Cairo-based Arab League in 2011 for its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

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