Jordan’s King Abdullah received a call from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the royal palace said on Sunday, the first such communication by authorities since the conflict in Syria began a decade ago.
The talks were the latest move to thaw ties between leaders who have long been on opposing sides in Syria’s civil war, with Jordan backing Syrian Western-backed mainstream rebels seeking to remove Assad from power.
“They discussed ways to enhance ties and cooperation between the two sibling countries,” the statement from Jordan’s palace said.
The palace statement said King Abdullah told Assad that his country supports the territorial integrity of its northern neighbor and its efforts to maintain its “stability and sovereignty”.
Following the Syrian leader’s bloody crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests against his authoritarian regime at the start of the conflict in 2011, the king called for Assad to step down and Jordan has called for Western and Arab weapons to be used for forces trying to oust Assad. There was a conduit for supply. .
However, the staunch US ally has intensified steps to normalize relations with Syria over the past few months and met with Syria’s defense minister about two weeks ago in a rare visit to coordinate cross-border security.
King Abdullah said in an interview with CNN in July that Assad was there to stay and that the status quo that kept Damascus ostracized by the international community was unstable.
Officials say Abdullah has been pressuring Washington for months to contain Syria and support Russia’s intervention in the war-torn country, saying the country needs to distance itself from Iran’s rising leg.
Officials said Abdullah, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in August and backed Syria’s role, supported efforts to resettle Damascus to Arabia and regain its seat in the Arab League.
The US State Department said on Wednesday that Washington has no plans to “normalize or upgrade” diplomatic relations with the Assad government, nor does it encourage others to do so. read more
Officials said Amman has sought Russia’s support to rein in the growing leg of pro-Iran militias, which dominate southern Syria along the Syrian border with Jordan, which has also worried Israel and Washington.
A senior official said Jordan is prompting Washington to lift parts of the 2019 Caesars Act – the toughest US sanctions ever that restricted foreign companies’ trade with Damascus, which has led to extensive ties with Syria. The practice has hindered, a senior official said.
The official, who requested anonymity, said Amman was awaiting a US waiver that would allow its state airliner Royal Jordanian (RJ) to resume direct flights to Damascus for the first time since the start of the conflict. .
Jordan fully reopened a border crossing with Syria last week to boost investment and trade during a decades-old conflict. read more