Western and Arab press reports have announced the arrival of a Saudi delegation in Syria’s capital, Damascus.
The delegation met with Assad regime officials, although neither the regime nor Saudi officials have confirmed these reports.
The Guardian, a British newspaper, quoted a Saudi official on Tuesday as saying, “The director-general of the intelligence service, Khalid al-Humaidan, visited Damascus and met with the head of the Assad regime’s national security office, Ali Mamlouk.”
According to the newspaper, the unnamed Saudi official added that the visit “has been planned for a while, however there has been no progress,” considering that “changing regional events have facilitated communication.”
The newspaper also quoted several Saudi officials saying that “the resumption of relations between Riyadh and Damascus could start shortly after next week’s Eid al-Fitr.
The British newspaper’s report came hours after a controversy aroused by Assad regime supporters who, on Monday evening, published information that a high-ranking Gulf figure would visit Damascus.
The Al-Rai al-Youm newspaper has quoted sources, described being “senior-ranking diplomats,” as saying that al-Humaidan met Mamluk in Damascus, and “an agreement was made to reopen the Saudi embassy in Damascus, as a first step to re-establishing bilateral relations in all aspects between the two countries.
In light of these media reports, there has been no official statement from the Assad regime or Saudi Arabia, that confirms or refutes the intelligence delegation’s visit to Damascus, at the time of writing.
“The ministry knows about the reports stating that there are ongoing Syrian-Saudi discussions to re-open the Saudi embassy in the Syrian capital,” a US State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying by Al-Hurra TV.
The same spokesperson added: “We believe that stability in Syria the region more generally can only be achieved through a political process that represents the wishes of all Syrians. We are committed to working with our allies and the United Nations to ensure that a permanent political solution can be reached.
It is not the first time that media reports have discussed meetings between the two countries. Al-Watan newspaper, which is affiliated with the Assad regime, stated early last year that a “friendly meeting” between Syria and Saudi Arabia took place in New York between the Assad regime’s then-representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, his Saudi counterpart Abdullah al-Moalemi, and the Saudi State Minister, Fahd bin Abdullah al-Mubarak.
The Saudi approach comes after a Russian intervention in the Arab region to return the Assad regime to the Arab League, which Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan has linked to a political solution.
“A political solution is the only way to end the crisis in Syria. We need stability, which requires combined efforts between the opposition and the government, necessitating a compromise so that we can move a political process forward,” Farhan said in an interview with CNN last month.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.