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Syria delegation visits Saudi Arabia for first time since 2011

May 27, 2021 at 11:39 am

Syrian Tourism Minister Mohammed Rami Martini (C) attends a tourism conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on 26 May 2021, despite tense relations between the two countries. [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images]

A delegation from the Syrian regime arrived in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Tuesday, in the first public official visit to the kingdom since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in early 2011, the SANA news agency reported.

SANA said the Ministry of Tourism will participate in the 47th meeting of the World Tourism Organisation Committee for the Middle East and the inauguration of the Middle East Regional Office and the Tourism Promotion Conference which will be held in Riyadh on 26-27 May.

The pro-regime news agency added that the Minister of Tourism , Muhammad Martini, arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday evening to participate in the meetings at the invitation of the Saudi Ministry of Tourism and the World Tourism Organisation.

The visit coincides with growing intelligence rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the Syrian regime, where media reports have recently confirmed that the head of Saudi intelligence, Khaled Al-Humaidan, met with the head of the National Security Office supervising the regime’s security agencies, Ali Mamlouk, in Damascus.

In early May, the Guardian reported that a Saudi delegation headed by Al-Humaidan visited Damascus, where he was received by Mamlouk, in the first known meeting of its kind since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution.

The paper quoted a Saudi official, who preferred not to be named, as saying: “The meeting has been planned for some time, but without any development, but events have changed regionally and this was a good opportunity.”

Arab media sources have also leaked that President Bashar Al-Assad met with the Saudi delegation and decided to reopen the Saudi embassy in Damascus as a first step towards restoring relations in all fields between the two countries.

The media sources also confirmed that the Saudi side informed Al-Assad that Riyadh welcomes Syria’s return to the Arab League, and the participation in the next Arab summit conference scheduled to take place in Algeria.

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