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Usa News

Syria’s Assad in UAE to mark ongoing thaw in relations


BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, his first visit to the wealthy Gulf country since the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria last month.

Assad, who arrived with his wife, Asma, and a delegation of Syrian officials, was received by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to a statement from Assad’s office.

Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement on Twitter that the two men “held constructive talks aimed at developing relations between our two countries”.

Visit marks continuation of ongoing thaw in relations between Syria and other Arab countries, more than a decade after the 22-member Arab League suspended Damascus’ membership due to Assad’s brutal crackdown against protesters and later against civilians during the war.

International sympathy after the earthquake appears to have accelerated the regional rapprochement that had been simmering for years. Before the tragedy, the UAE had already reestablished ties with Damascus. Assad’s first visit to the UAE since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 took place last year, followed by another visit in January this year.

After the earthquake, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates visited Damascus and the Gulf country sent dozens of aid shipments to Syria.

Damascus hopes that regional reconciliation will release long-awaited funds to rebuild the battered country. However, analysts have said that is unlikely to happen on a large scale at this time.

A major obstacle: Syria has not implemented UN Security Council Resolution 2254 adopted in December 2015 as a roadmap for peace in Syria. Acceptance of the roadmap is a key requirement of the United States and the European Union to normalize relations with Damascus.

The World Bank said on Sunday that Syria’s real gross domestic product is expected to contract by 5.5% in 2023 following the earthquake, with physical damage estimated at $3.7 billion and economic losses at $1.5 billion, bringing the estimated total impact to $5.2 billion. This is in addition to pre-existing damage from 12 years of war.

“Economic growth could contract further if reconstruction progress is slower than expected, given limited public resources, weak private investment and limited humanitarian assistance reaching affected areas,” the Bank said. in a press release.

washingtonpost Gt

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