Saudi Arabian officials are reported to have met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus yesterday, with the aim of restoring diplomatic relations a decade after they were cut off.
According to the London-based Arabic news outlet Rai Al-Youm, Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Khaled Al-Humaidan, led the delegation to the Syrian capital. The reopening of the Saudi Embassy was on the agenda.
With neither Damascus nor Riyadh acknowledging the talks, the paper reported that the Saudi delegation is expected to return after the month of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr.
At the start of the Syrian revolution and the Assad regime's brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in 2011, many in the region and the international community cut diplomatic ties with Syria. Saudi Arabia did so in 2012, and Syria was thrown out of the Arab League.
Over the past few years, however, as Syrian opposition groups have been pushed further north and Assad has regained control of much of his former territory with the help of Russia and Iran, some regional states have restored their relations with the regime. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reopened its embassy in Damascus in 2018, and Oman reappointed its envoy to Syria last year.
Saudi Arabia has refrained from restoring its ties with Assad until now. After hints about communications between the two states last year, Riyadh's reconciliation with Damascus would not come as a surprise to many.