Saudi Arabia, Syria discuss restoring diplomatic relations

Saudi Arabia, Syria discuss restoring diplomatic relations

Saudi Arabia, Syria discuss restoring diplomatic relations

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said on March 23 that the kingdom is in talks with Syria to resume consular services for the first time since 2012, Saudi state media reported.

State-owned Al Ekhbariya TV reported the discussions, citing a source in the Saudi foreign ministry. Saudi and Syrian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The kingdom backed the Syrian opposition against Damascus government during Syria’s uprising-turned-civil war that began in 2011. However, in recent years a regional rapprochement has been brewing. Last month’s devastating earthquake in Syria and Türkiye sparked international sympathy and speeded up the process, with Saudi and other Arab countries shipping aid to Damascus.

The restoration of diplomatic relations earlier this month between regional powerhouses Iran and Saudi Arabia, which since 2011 have supported rival groups in Syria’s conflict, may have been a turning point in Damascus’ political fortunes. The surprise Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, which came about via Chinese mediation, quickly had ripple effects around the region.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has publicly acknowledged that there is a growing consensus among Arab countries that dialogue with Damascus is necessary.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the next Arab League summit in May, where most states hope to restore Syria’s membership after it was suspended in 2011, the league’s secretary-general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said earlier this month.