UAE president meets Syria’s Assad in Damascus

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and President Bashar Al-Assad The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has met President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, where the UAE…

UAE president meets Syria's Assad in Damascus

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and President Bashar Al-Assad

The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has met President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, where the UAE is building a multi-billion-dollar military base.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan met the Syrian leader at a ceremony marking the opening of the base.

The UAE has supplied some military equipment to the government.

In 2015, its ministers attended peace talks in Geneva but both sides accused the other of sabotaging the peace process.

The UAE, along with Qatar, faced sanctions from the US and Saudi Arabia for their involvement in the crisis in Qatar , although these were lifted after Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc signed a deal.

“Peace between Syria and the world will liberate Syria from the crisis” Sheikh Abdullah said at the opening ceremony of the base on Tuesday.

BBC’s Rory Mccarthy, in the Syrian capital, says the UAE’s visit to Damascus has raised expectations of a major statement from the UAE and Syria.

UAE official Zaki Yamani, who was in Syria for the ceremony, also said the UAE would be sending a delegation to Syria to discuss the weapons shipments in return for rebuilding and humanitarian projects.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem told the ceremony the UAE’s support for Syria was “long-standing and reliable”.

In September, Assad agreed to a proposed new US-Russian “cessation of hostilities” brokered by UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Although the accord has reduced violence in the Syrian conflict, more than a week later there are no signs of the deal being implemented.

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