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Sudan president lands in Syria in 1st visit by Arab leader since 2011

AP, Monday 17 Dec 2018
Bashir Assad AFP
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on December 16, 2018 shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) receiving his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir upon his arrival in the Syrian capital Damascus. (Photo AFP)
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Sudan's president on Sunday became the first Arab League leader to visit Syria since civil war erupted there nearly eight years ago.

Omar al-Bashir was greeted at the Damascus airport by Syrian President Bashar Assad before they both headed to the presidential palace, where they held talks on bilateral relations and the latest developments in Syria and the region, according to the state-run news agency.

Syria was expelled from the 22-member Arab League soon after war broke out in 2011.

At the time, Arab countries sanctioned Damascus and condemned Assad for using overwhelming military force and failing to negotiate with the opposition.

In October, Assad told a Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria had reached a "major understanding" with Arab states after years of hostility. He did not name the Arab countries in the interview, which was his first with a Gulf paper since the war erupted, but he said Arab and Western delegations had begun visiting Syria to prepare for the reopening of diplomatic and other missions.

The Syrian state news agency SANA quoted the Sudanese president as saying during the meeting with Assad that he hopes Syria will recover its important role in the region as soon as possible. He also affirmed Sudan's readiness to provide all that it can to support Syria's territorial integrity.

SANA said Assad thanked al-Bashir for his visit, asserting that it will give strong momentum for restoring relations between the two countries "to the way it was before the war on Syria."

*The story edited by Ahram Online.

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