Visit to Egypt by the Syrian Foreign Minister

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CAIRO (Reuters) – Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad was received in Cairo on Saturday by his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukri, on the occasion of the first official visit to Egypt by a Syrian foreign minister since beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011.

This visit, said a source within the Egyptian security services, speaking on condition of remaining anonymous, aims to put in place the conditions for the reintegration of Syria into the Arab League, thanks to the mediation of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Bashar al Assad’s Syria was temporarily expelled from the Arab League in November 2011, following the bloody repression of pro-democracy protests that had begun eight months earlier.

Regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have recently made gestures of openness towards Damascus.

The United States deplored these efforts aimed at rehabilitating Bashar al Assad or normalizing ties with Syria until a political solution is found to the conflict.

The official Syrian news agency Sana reported that talks between Sameh Shukri and Faisal Mekdad would focus on strengthening relations between Damascus and Cairo.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister visited Syria and Turkey last February after the earthquakes that devastated the region.

(Aidan Lewis, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, Maya Gebeily and Kinda Makieh, French version Jean-Stéphane Brosse)