Arab foreign ministers head for Jordan to discuss Syria integration

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Jordan will host Monday a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss the yearslong Syrian civil war and ending the country’s diplomatic isolation.

Syria’s Bashar Assad has been politically isolated since the conflict in his country began in 2011.

However, recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity after Saudi Arabia and Iran – a close ally of Damascus – resumed diplomatic ties in March, shifting regional relations.

Monday’s meeting in Amman will bring together foreign ministers from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

The talks will “take stock of the contacts of these countries with the Syrian government to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” a foreign ministry statement said Sunday.

It called the gathering “a continuation of the consultative meeting of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia” in mid-April.

That meeting saw nine Arab states meet in Jeddah to discuss ending Syria’s long spell in the diplomatic wilderness and its possible return to the 22-member Arab League after Damascus was suspended in 2011.

The diplomats stressed the “importance of having an Arab leadership role in efforts to end the crisis” in Syria, a statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reestablished ties with Damascus in late 2018. April also saw Syria and Tunisia announce they would reopen diplomatic missions in their respective capitals.

Regional opponents to Damascus’s reintegration remain, however. Qatar, which has supported Syrian opposition groups, called the idea of Syria returning to the Arab League mere “speculation.”

The 12-year war in Syria has claimed around half a million lives and nearly half of its population are now refugees or internally displaced.

Swathes of territory still remain outside government control.

Assad is hoping full normalization of ties with the wealthy Gulf monarchies will help to finance the reconstruction of the country’s war-ravaged infrastructure.

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