Iran’s foreign minister welcomes Arab “normalization” with Damascus

Damascus: Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Abdol-Amir Lahian welcomed, Wednesday, from Damascus, some Arab countries’ “new approach” to normalizing relations with Syria, in a position that comes five days after President Bashar al-Assad’s surprise visit to the UAE.

“We discussed the latest bilateral, regional and international developments, and we welcome the efforts of some Arab countries to normalize their relations with the Syrian Arab Republic by adopting a new approach. We are satisfied with that,” Abdullahian said during a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Miqdad, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Abdullahian’s statement came after his meeting with Miqdad, Assad and the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, Major General Ali Mamlouk, who visited Tehran at the end of last month.

Iran is a key ally of Assad, and during the ongoing conflict in his country since 2011, it provided political, economic and military support to Damascus.

This is the second visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister to Damascus since the end of last August.

For his part, Miqdad said that the visit constituted “a good opportunity to review all developments in the region and bilateral relations and the important events taking place on the regional and international arenas.”

The high-ranking Iranian official’s visit to Damascus came days after Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates last Friday, which was his first to an Arab country since the conflict began.

The visit, which Washington denounced, was the latest indication of the return of warm relations between Syria and the UAE, which severed relations with Damascus in February 2012.

Al-Assad met Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto ruler of the Emirates, who was quoted by the official Emirates News Agency (WAM) as saying that he hopes it will be “a light of good, peace and stability for brotherly Syria and the entire region.”

The agency stated that the meeting dealt with “the overall relations between the two countries and the prospects for expanding the circle of bilateral cooperation, especially at the economic, investment and commercial levels.”

The League of Arab States suspended Syria’s membership after the outbreak of the conflict, but the issue no longer met with consensus. Qatar, the influential Gulf state, still opposes the return of Damascus to the Arab incubator.

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