On April 12, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah on a breakthrough visit to push forward the normalization process between the two Arab countries.
The official Saudi Press Agency said that Mekdad will discuss efforts that aim to reach a political solution to Syria’s crisis during the visit.
Discussions will tackle means to reach a solution that maintains Syria’s unity, security and stability, facilitate the return of Syrian refugees and secure the delivery of humanitarian aid to affected people across Syria.
Mekdad was invited by his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.
The visit is the first by a Syrian foreign minister to Saudi Arabia since 2011, when the war in Syria broke out. Riyadh cut all ties with Damascus and supported the rebels early on in the war. However in recent years, the kingdom adopted a more pragmatic stance on Syria.
Saudi Arabia’s decisions to restore relations with the country became known in the last few months, with reports of a plan to reopen the embassy in Damascus and invite President Bashar al-Assad to the next Arab League summit in the kingdom in the coming weeks.
Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended in the first year of the war after the failure of a peace plan advised by the organization.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia, has called for a meeting on the level of foreign ministers to discuss Syria’s return to the league. The meeting, which will also be attended by the foreign ministers of Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, will be held in Jeddah on April 14.
Saudi Arabia has been working to reshape its foreign policy away from the influence of its main ally, the United States. The kingdom has already restored relations with Iran in a deal brokered by China, and has reportedly made the decision to end the war on Yemen.