Saudi Arabia and Syria welcomed yesterday the resumption of consular services and flights between the two countries for the first time since diplomatic relations were severed in 2011, the Saudi Press Agency has reported. A joint statement was issued at the end of the visit by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to the Kingdom.
Mekdad’s visit took place at the invitation of his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al-Saud. The Kingdom, said the official statement, is keen to do anything to “serve the issues of the Arab nation and promote the interests” of its countries and people.
The two discussed efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis that preserves Syria’s unity, security, stability, Arab identity and territorial integrity while also serving the interests of its people.
“They agreed that it is crucial to address humanitarian issues, create an environment that would allow aid to reach all areas of Syria, establish the prerequisites for Syrian refugees and displaced people to return to their homes safely, and take additional steps that would help stabilise the situation in the entire Syrian territories.”
Predictably, both officials stressed the importance of enhancing security and combating terrorism in all its forms and organisations. Syria’s state institutions, they insisted, need help to extend their control over Syrian territory, and end the presence of armed militias and external “interference” in Syria’s domestic affairs.
The need to cooperate against drug smuggling was mentioned. The US has just imposed sanctions against relations of President Bashar Al-Assad. Drug trafficking has long been a source of illicit revenue for the regime in Damascus.
The Saudi-Syria diplomatic moves confirm the long-held understanding that Riyadh has been keen to get Syria back into the Arab fold. Hence, the public welcome for putting the measures in place to resume consular activities and flights.
Mekdad also expressed Syria’s appreciation for the efforts made by Saudi Arabia to end the Syrian crisis, and its provision of humanitarian aid to those affected by the earthquakes that struck Syria in February.