Syria and Tunisia restore diplomatic ties after a decade

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria will reopen its embassy in Tunisia after the North African country announced the appointment of a new ambassador to Damascus, Syrian state media reported Wednesday.

Tunisia has become the latest Arab state to reestablish diplomatic ties with Syria, after cutting off relations a decade ago.

The move by Tunisian President Kais Saied to appoint a new ambassador was immediately approved and reciprocated by the Syrian government, a joint statement from the two countries’ foreign ministries read, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

The announcement was the latest in a regional trend of rapprochement with the war-torn country, which has picked up pace since the massive Feb. 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and the Chinese-brokered reestablishment of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Syria was widely shunned by Arab governments over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters and later civilians in an uprising turned civil war that began in 2011. The breakdown in relations culminated with Syria being ousted from the Arab League. Tunis shut down its embassy in Damascus in 2012.

Earlier this year, Assad visited Oman and the United Arab Emirates, two nations that had backed fighters trying to topple his government. The Syrian government is reportedly in talks with Saudi Arabia to reopen their embassies in Damascus and Riyadh.

A delegation headed by Syria’s foreign minister arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for talks about bilateral relations between the two countries, Syrian state media reported.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the next Arab League summit in May, where most states hope to restore Syria’s membership, the league’s secretary-general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, has said.

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