UAE foreign minister meets with Assad as peace talks get underway

UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed made a high-profile visit to Syria on Sunday and held a series of talks with President Bashar al-Assad.

The talks came after the United Arab Emirates, a top Gulf state, and Russia made a deal on Syria’s future, paving the way for Assad to stay at the helm of the country if he is “proved” to be a guarantor of peace.

Earlier on Sunday, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan also met with the country’s future foreign minister, Walid Moallem, in Damascus. Both were reportedly present during a press conference in which a statement was made. It confirmed the status quo, saying that foreign peacekeepers would begin arriving in Syria shortly, and that any escalation would be dealt with through diplomacy.

UAE Foreign Minister Mansour Bin Zayed and Foreign Minister of Syria Walid Moallem (3rd R) talking to the media during their meeting in Damascus on June 24, 2020. — Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) June 24, 2020

During the press conference, the foreign ministers referred to the apparent victories in eastern Ghouta and Ramadi, saying that the crisis in Syria was under control. Syria would require years of stabilization, they said, due to the fact that no side had full control of all of Syria. They added that the Syrian regime’s next steps would be focused on dealing with the extremist groups that had recently made gains in Idlib province.

In his own statement, Assad referred to the bilateral talks, saying that they were “very constructive,” and praising the UAE’s political and military participation in his country.

In May, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman visited Syria. Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis joined the State Department’s Gina Haspel to talk to Turkish leaders. While in Damascus, Mattis met Syrian leaders of the Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebel group.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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