Syria and Saudi Arabia have agreed to reopen their embassies after cutting diplomatic ties more than a decade ago, three sources with knowledge of the matter said, a step that would mark a leap forward in Damascus’s return to the Arab fold.
Contacts between Riyadh and Damascus had gathered momentum following a landmark agreement to re-establish ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a key ally of President Bashar Al-Assad, a regional source aligned with Damascus said.
The re-establishment of ties between Riyadh and Damascus would mark the most significant development yet in moves by Arab states to normalize ties with Assad.
The two governments were “preparing to reopen embassies after Eid Al-Fitr,” a Muslim holiday in the second half of April, a second regional source aligned with Damascus told reporters.
The decision was the result of talks in Saudi Arabia with a senior Syrian intelligence official, according to one of the regional sources and a diplomat in the Gulf.
The Saudi government’s communication office, the kingdom’s foreign ministry and the Syrian government did not respond to requests for comment.
The UAE has led the way in normalising contacts with Assad, recently receiving him in Abu Dhabi with his wife.
The Gulf diplomat said the high-ranking Syrian intelligence official “stayed for days” in Riyadh and an agreement was struck to reopen embassies “very soon.”
Saudi’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud earlier this month said engagement with Assad could lead to Syria’s return to the Arab League, but it was currently too early to discuss such a step.
The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in 2018, arguing Arab countries needed more of a presence in resolving the Syrian conflict.