“Efforts are being made to improve relations with Saudi Arabia,” said Bouthaina Shaaban, a political advisor to Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad.
On Wednesday, Shaaban said that efforts to improve relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “could produce positive results soon.”
Shaaban’s comments came on election day when Europeans and Americans were refusing to recognize the election’s legitimacy. Meanwhile, the regime’s tourism minister had visited Riyadh to attend international tourism events — the first invitation of its kind in 10 years.
“It has not been possible in the past years,” Shaaban told local radio Sham FM, describing the visit as “a positive step.”
Earlier this month, western media reported that a high-ranking Saudi delegation led by General Khalid Hamidan, head of general intelligence, had visited Damascus.
“This has been planned for a while, but no steps have been taken to implement,” a Saudi official, who asked not to be named, was quoted as saying to the Guardian.
“Normalization of relations may begin shortly after Eid al-Fitr,” the unnamed official said.
“Media reports that the head of Saudi intelligence held talks in Damascus are inaccurate,” said Raed Qarmli, director of the [Saudi] Foreign Ministry’s Policy Planning Department.
“Saudi policy towards Syria continues to be based on supporting the Syrian people in reaching a political solution under the United Nations auspices, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, Syria’s unity, and Arab identity,” Ambassador Qarmli said.
Riyadh severed its relationship with the Syrian regime in August 2011, when it withdrew the Saudi ambassador from Damascus, before finally closing Saudi embassies in 2012. The decision was made to protest the military’s treatment of civilians; Saudi Arabia did not reopen its embassy in Damascus in a move similar to other Gulf states, led by the UAE.
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.