Last updated: 6 August, 2015

Damascus and Muscat to ‘unite’ efforts to end Syria war

Muscat and Damascus agreed to work together to end Syria’s brutal war, official media reported, as the Syrian foreign minister Thursday made his first Gulf visit since the conflict erupted in 2011.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem met Oman’s chief diplomat Yussef bin Alawi to discuss “several regional and international topics of common interest”, the official Omani news agency ONA said.

They agreed “that now is the time to unite the efforts to end this (Syrian) crisis”, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA.

“The two sides agreed to continue cooperation and coordination to achieve the shared goals of their peoples and governments,” it said.

Syrian daily Al-Watan daily, close to the regime in Damascus, pointed out that Muscat had not cut diplomatic and political ties with President Bashar al-Assad’s government, unlike other Arab countries in the Gulf.

It was Muallem’s “first visit to an Arab state in nearly four years, at the official invitation of his Omani counterpart”, the paper reported in announcing the visit.

Al-Watan also wrote of a possible meeting in Muscat, a traditional mediator in the region, between top diplomats from Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, along with Russia, is a key backer of Assad, while Saudi Arabia is a prominent supporter of the opposition and rebels fighting to topple his regime.

On Wednesday, Muallem was in Tehran, where he met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Syrian minister also met with Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister and special representative to the Middle East.

The visit to Tehran coincided with Iran’s announcement of a new peace plan to bring an end to Syria’s conflict, which has killed more than 230,000 people.