Syria’s FM visits Egypt

The Syrian foreign minister made his first trip to Cairo in over a decade on Saturday as part of efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.

A spokesperson for the Egyptian foreign ministry, Ahmed Abu Zaid, said Faisal Mekdad and Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry discussed bilateral ties and regional and international issues.

Following a tête-à-tête meeting, the two ministers joined by their delegations for wider consultations on how to assist the “Syrian people” in regaining unity and sovereignty over all their territories.

The spokesman also reaffirmed Egypt’s support for U.N.-brokered efforts to resolve Syria’s conflict.

As the two countries inch toward reestablishing ties, Mekdad’s visit comes at a time when Syria has been globally isolated since a brutal crackdown on mass protests against Assad’s rule during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. As a result of the unrest, a protracted civil war quickly developed.

A number of Egyptian public figures have long urged the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to restore ties with Assad’s government.

Following military assistance from Iran and Russia, Syria regained control over most of the country, causing the country to be suspend from the Arab League and other pan-Arab organizations.

A devastating earthquake that stuck Turkey and Syria in February has intensified moves to normalize ties with Syria. As a sign of solidarity with Syria and Turkey, several Arab nations dispatched senior officials and sent aid. Recently, the United Arab Emirates and Oman hosted Assad.

Following the earthquake, El-Sissi spoke with Assad by phone and sent Shoukry to Damascus to meet with him. Shoukry was Egypt’s most senior official to visit Syria since 2011.

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