BEIRUT (Reuters/AP) – Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad arrived in Algeria on Saturday for an official visit, Syrian state media reported.
Mekdad’s visit reinforces Damascus’ openness to the Arab world after it was isolated for more than a decade, and the minister was welcomed by Algerian foreign minister, Ahmed Ataf, Algerian state radio said.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011, citing an alleged crackdown on opposition protests. Syria has denounced the move as “illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”
Syria was one of the six founding members of the Arab League in 1945. In recent months, an increasing number of countries and political parties have called for the reversal of its suspension from the Arab League.
After meeting in Saudi Arabia to discuss Syria’s political fate, a group of regional leaders promised Saturday to continue talks to reach a political solution for Syria.
The meeting, which included top diplomats from the Persian Gulf Arab countries as well as Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, was convened days after Syria’s foreign minister visited Saudi Arabia for the first time since the kingdom cut off diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012.
Syria and Saudi Arabia said Thursday they were moving toward reopening embassies and resuming flights between the two countries for the first time in more than a decade.
In recent years, as President Bashar Assad consolidated control over most of the country, Syria’s neighbors have begun to take steps toward rapprochement. The overtures 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, which had backed opposing sides in the Syrian conflict.
Saudi Arabia is hosting the next Arab League summit in May, when Syria’s membership is widely expected to be on the table.
A statement issued by the Saudi foreign ministry Saturday said the ministers had “stressed that a political solution is the only solution for Syria, and the importance of having an Arab leadership role in efforts to end the crisis.” They agreed to “set up the necessary mechanisms” to do so and hold “intensifying consultations among Arab countries to ensure the success of these efforts.