MUSCAT: In a sign of improving Arab ties, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Oman on February20, 2023, his first foreign visit since a devastating earthquake hit his nation and Turkey this month.
He was greeted at the airport by Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and a large delegation of top officials.
The rulers held official talks at Al Barakah Palace, where Sultan Haitham extended condolences to the earthquake victims and vowed to continue Oman’s relief efforts. They also discussed bilateral relations and fields of cooperation as well as security and stability in the region and the world.
A statement from the Syrian presidency said Sultan Haitham looked forward to Syria’s ties with all Arab countries returning to normal.
Syria’s violent crackdown against protesters in 2012 hurt ties with Arab neighbours. About half a million people perished in the ensuing civil war. But since the earthquake, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which had been supporting anti-Assad rebels, have poured aid into Syria.
Senior ministers and top officials from both nations were present at the talks. The Omani side included defence deputy prime minister Sayyid Shihab bin Tarik al Said, foreign minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad al Busaidi, finance minister Sultan bin Salim al Habsi, education minister Madiha bint Ahmed al Shaibani, and the ambassador to Syria Sayyid Turki bin Mahmoud al Busaidi.
The Syrian delegates included foreign affairs minister Faisal Mekdad, economy and trade minister Samer al Khalil and ambassador to Oman Idris Maya.
The two rulers then held a closed-door session, following which the Syrian president ended his one-day working visit and left with his delegation.