Syria foreign minister in first visit to Gulf since conflict: Media

AFP , Thursday 6 Aug 2015

Syria's Foreign Minister is to head to Oman on Thursday in his first visit to a Gulf country since the beginning of his country's brutal war in 2011, according to Syrian media.

"Walid Muallem will head Thursday to Muscat, the Omani capital, for his first visit to an Arab state in nearly four years, at the official invitation of his Omani counterpart Yussef bin Alawi," reported the Al-Watan daily, which is close to the government.

Muscat has not cut diplomatic and political ties to Damascus, unlike other Gulf countries, Al-Watan said.

The publication also wrote of a potential meeting in Muscat between top diplomats from Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, along with Russia, is a key backer of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia is a prominent supporter of the opposition.

Muallem would be travelling from Tehran, where he has been meeting with high-level Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rohani.

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

Muallem's visit to Tehran coincided with Iran's announcement of a new peace plan to put an end to Syria's four-year conflict, which has killed more than 230,000 people.

According to pro-regime Al-Mayadeen television, the peace plan proposes "an immediate ceasefire in Syria, the formation of a national unity government, the amendment of the Constitution... to guarantee rights for ethnic and religious minorities and for elections supervised by international observers."

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