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Saudi Arabia, Syria call for end to foreign military presence on Syrian soil

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud have called for an end to foreign military presence on Syrian oil and West’s interventions in the Arab country, as the two countries resume diplomatic ties after more than a decade.

In a joint statement issued following a meeting between the two top diplomats in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Wednesday evening, both sides agreed to resume consular services and direct flights between Damascus and Riyadh, and work with each other to beef up regional security and combat all forms of terrorism.

They also discussed the necessary steps to achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the crisis in Syria and end all its repercussions, secure national reconciliation, and contribute to the return of Syria to its Arab fold and its natural role in the Arab world.

In the joint statement, both sides agreed on the need for the Syrian state to assert its control over all its territories and end the presence of all foreign forces.

The US military has stationed its forces and equipment in northeastern Syria without the Syrian government’s consent, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment aims to prevent the oil fields in the area from falling into the hands of the Daesh terrorists.

Damascus, however, says the US deployment is aimed at plundering Syria’s natural resources. Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in the Arab country for its oil wealth.

The top Syrian and Saudi diplomats also stressed the need to address humanitarian difficulties and establish a suitable environment for aid supplies to reach all parts of Syria, according to the statement.

They stressed the importance of the return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced individuals to their homelands, besides required steps to stabilize situation in Syria.

The Syrian foreign minister landed in Jeddah on Wednesday in the first visit by a senior Syrian diplomat to the kingdom in more than a decade, a major sign that Syria’s regional isolation is nearing an end.

Mekdad’s trip to the kingdom came two days before Saudi Arabia hosts a meeting of regional foreign ministers to discuss the return of Syria to the Arab League.

Back in March 2012, Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Damascus and then severed diplomatic ties with the Syrian government. Riyadh also funded Takfiri militants seeking to overthrow Assad.

The diplomatic breakthrough could indicate how the deal between Tehran and Riyadh may play into the settlement of other crises in the Middle East region.

 

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