Report: UAE FM in Damascus for talks with Syrian officials

Lebanese media outlets reported on Tuesday the United Arab Emirates (UAE) foreign minister has arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus for an official visit.

The United Arab Emirates foreign minister landed in Damascus on Tuesday, Lebanese broadcasters reported, a sign of improving ties between President Bashar al-Assad and one of the prominent Arab states that once backed rebels trying to overthrow him.

There was no immediate confirmation from either the UAE or Syrian foreign ministries or the Syrian presidency, and no word on the visit on Syrian state media.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed would be the most senior Emirati dignitary to visit Syria in the decade since the eruption of a war in which several Arab states lined up in support of rebels seeking to topple Assad.

The foreign minister arrived with a senior delegation, according to al-Manar TV.

The pro-government Syrian newspaper al-Watan cited unofficial media sources “talking about” his arrival.

The United Arab Emirates has been at the forefront of efforts by some Arab states to normalise ties with Damascus, and called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League earlier this year. It reopened its embassy in Damascus three years ago.

The United States, a close ally of the UAE, has announced it does not support any efforts to normalise ties with Assad or rehabilitate him until progress is made towards a political solution to the conflict.

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