Syrian FM in rare Oman visit amid heightened diplomacy

Syria`s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem made his first visit to the Gulf in more than four years on Thursday, meeting his Omani counterpart in Muscat for talks on ways to end the civil war in his country.

Reuters| Updated: Aug 06, 2015, 22:50 PM IST

Dubai/Beirut: Syria`s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem made his first visit to the Gulf in more than four years on Thursday, meeting his Omani counterpart in Muscat for talks on ways to end the civil war in his country.

The visit, his first to the Gulf since his country descended into conflict in 2011, coincides with heightened diplomatic efforts to end the four-year conflict in Syria.

Oman sees itself as a conciliator in a volatile region and has a history of constructive relations with Syria`s close ally Iran.

In the meeting, Moualem and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi agreed it was time to bring together "constructive efforts" to end the crisis, the Syrian state news agency SANA said.

It reported that the men said any solution "should be based on meeting the aspirations of the Syrian people in the fight against terrorism" and should ensure the stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, SANA said.

Moualem was accompanied by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, SANA said.

Moualem visited Tehran earlier in the week for talks on the war amid increased efforts by Iran and Russia, both allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to end the conflict and build a wide international alliance against Islamic State.

Syrian state TV quoted Moualem as saying on the visit that Syria supported any efforts to combat Islamic State if they were coordinated with Damascus, but anything else would "be a breach of Syrian sovereignty".

Iran and Russia have stood by Assad, providing military and financial support during the conflict. The United States and some of its Gulf Arab allies have said Assad must leave office.

During Moualem`s visit to Tehran on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated "Iran’s unwavering support for the Syrian nation in the face of terror groups", Iranian state media reported.