(Reuters) – Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates’ de facto ruler, discussed developments in Syria and the Middle East with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.
Washington’s main regional allies have stepped up economic and diplomatic ties with Assad, shunned after a bloody crackdown over a decade ago on peaceful protests against his rule that spiralled into a multi-sided war that killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.
The UAE re-opened its mission to Damascus in late 2018 in a bid to counter the influence of non-Arab actors such as Iran, which along with Russia backs Assad, and Turkey, which backs rebel forces. WAM gave no further details of the talks.
Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally, fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria in late September, to boost the countries’ struggling economies and reinforce the push by Arab states to reintegrate Syria.
Jordan’s King Abdullah also spoke to Assad for the first time in a decade this month while the Egyptian and Syrian foreign ministers met last month on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, in what Egyptian media said was the first meeting at that level for about a decade.
(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah and Suleiman al Khalidi in Amman; Editing by Chris Reese and Alison Williams)