Syria, Saudi Arabia moving toward restoring embassies, flights for first time in over a decade

Damascus and Riyadh are moving toward reopening embassies and resuming flights between the two countries for the first time in more than a decade, the countries announced Thursday in a joint statement.

The announcement followed a visit by Syria’s top diplomat to the kingdom, the first since Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012.

A delegation headed by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad, at the invitation of Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for talks about bilateral relations between the two countries, state media from the two countries reported.

In a joint statement issued following a meeting between Mekdad and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Wednesday evening, both sides agreed to resume consular services and direct flights between Damascus and Riyadh, and work with each other to beef up regional security and combat all forms of terrorism.

They also discussed the necessary steps to achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the crisis in Syria and end all its repercussions, secure national reconciliation, and contribute to the return of Syria to its Arab fold and its natural role in the Arab world.

In the joint statement, both sides agreed on the need for the Syrian state to assert its control over all its territories and end the presence of all foreign forces.

The top Syrian and Saudi diplomats also stressed the need to address humanitarian difficulties and establish a suitable environment for aid supplies to reach all parts of Syria, according to the statement.

They stressed the importance of the return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced individuals to their homelands, besides required steps to stabilize situation in Syria.

Mekdad’s trip to the kingdom came two days before Saudi Arabia hosts a meeting of regional foreign ministers to discuss the return of Syria to the Arab League.

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