Damascus and Cairo close to restoring ties – WSJ
Syria and Egypt are in advanced talks to restore diplomatic relations that were severed after the outbreak of the conflict in Syria back in 2011, informed sources have told the Wall Street Journal.
A summit is scheduled between Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, shortly after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends in late April, the US outlet reported.
On Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad made his first official visit to Cairo in more than a decade, holding talks with Egypt’s top diplomat Sameh Shoukry.
According to the Syrian Foreign Ministry, the two sides discussed “various aspects of bilateral cooperation and ways to strengthen brotherly relations” during the meeting.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry in its statement reported that the ministers “agreed to intensify channels of communication between the two countries at different levels during the coming phase.”
Shoukry reiterated Cario’s support for a “comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis as soon as possible,” the statement read.
According to WSJ’s sources, the parties were also expected to discuss Syria’s possible return to the Arab League during the talks in Cairo. Damascus’ participation in the group of 22 nations was suspended 12 years ago when members accused Syria of a violent crackdown on opposition.
Assad’s government, which insists that it has been fighting international terrorism all those years, has by now been able to regain almost full control of Syrian territory with the assistance of its allies Russia and Iran.
Diplomatic relations between Cairo and Damascus were cut in 2013 under the previous Islamist Egyptian government of Mohamed Morsi, which backed the Syrian opposition. When announcing the closure of the embassy in Syria, Morsi also decried the involvement of Lebanese armed group Hezbollah in the conflict on the side of Damascus and urged that a no-fly zone be established above the country.
The mending of relations between Damascus and the rest of the Arab World has been spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates, which reopened its Syrian embassy in 2018 and has been visited by Assad twice over the past two years. Last week, Syria and Saudi Arabia also agreed to re-establish their diplomatic missions.