Syrian foreign minister to visit Algeria


Cairo (Reuters) – Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad will arrive in Algeria on Saturday, Algerian state radio reported late on Friday, a visit that reinforces Damascus’ openness to the Arab world after it was isolated for more than a decade.

The Algerian foreign minister, Ahmed Ataf, will receive the visiting minister, state radio said.

It is expected that Mekdad will also visit Tunis early next week.

Syria and Tunisia agreed on Wednesday to reopen their respective embassies, 11 years after Tunis severed ties to protest a deadly crackdown on demonstrators opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Recent intense diplomatic moves further chipped away at Syria’s isolation in the Arab world arising from its decade-long civil war, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, drew in numerous foreign powers and splintered the country, destabilising the wider region.

Saudi Arabia plans to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Arab League summit that Riyadh is scheduled to host on May 19, sources have told Reuters, a move that reflects a change in the regional approach towards the Syrian conflict.

Riyadh invited Syria’s Mekdad for talks on Wednesday in a landmark visit and both countries agreed to reopen embassies soon.

After the massive Feb. 6 earthquake in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, aid from regional rivals began to flow in – as did top-tier visitors with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan going to Damascus.

Assad in turn traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Oman for talks.

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