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UAE Foreign Minister Meets With Syria’s Assad in Damascus
Syrian Presdient Bashar Assad during a November 2017 visit to Russia. (Office of the President of Russia via Wikimedia Commons)

UAE Foreign Minister Meets With Syria’s Assad in Damascus

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates met in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed is the first Emirati official to visit Syria since the start of the country’s decade-long deadly civil war. The UAE had supported the rebel forces trying to depose Assad. The US State Department said following news of Tuesday’s meeting that it is “concerned” by the warming ties between its ally and Assad.

The UAE foreign minister led a delegation of senior Emirati officials to Tuesday’s meeting with Syrian officials, during which bilateral relations and cooperation were discussed, according to a statement from the Syrian presidency to media outlets. The UAE, which has been open to normalizing ties with Syria, reopened its embassy in Damascus three years ago.

Sheikh Abdullah expressed the “UAE’s keenness on the security, stability and unity of Syria” during his meeting with Assad, UAE’s state news agency WAM reported, according to Reuters.

“We are concerned by reports of this meeting and the signal it sends,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday during a regular news briefing. “As we’ve said before, this administration will not express any support for efforts to normalize or to rehabilitate Bashar al-Assad who is a brutal dictator.”

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