Saudi Arabia to invite Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad to Arab leaders summit

Saudi Arabia is planning to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit, on Sunday (April 2).

The summit, which is scheduled to take place on May 19, will be hosted in Riyadh this year. If the Syrian leader was to participate in the conference, it would formally end Syria’s regional isolation. 

Assad’s attendance would also mark a significant development in his rehabilitation within the Arab world since 2011 when Syria was suspended from the 22-member organization.

While it would mostly be symbolic, Syria’s participation would reflect the change in regional approach towards the Syrian conflict where hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives, which has also drawn several foreign powers and fractured the country

The report, citing two anonymous sources, also said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan will travel to Damascus in the upcoming weeks to extend a formal invitation to the Syrian president to attend the summit in May. “We are not supposed to be informed in advance about the assumed visit,” said Gamal Roshdy, spokesperson for the Arab League secretary general, as per Reuters. 

This also comes a month after another report by Reuters citing sources claimed that Riyadh and Damascus have agreed to reopen their embassies after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, however, the reports were not confirmed by Saudi officials. 

The statement was made in the context that the 22-member body is not privy to every move on the bilateral level between Arab countries.

Reports also suggest that the discussions have been going on for more than a year over a list of demands given by Saudi Arabia to the Syrian government to meet conditions to mend the ties between the two countries which reportedly include cooperation on border security and drug trafficking.

However, discussions were postponed after devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, in February, said anonymous sources to Reuters. 

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