UAE invites Syria’s Assad to COP28 climate summit

DUBAI – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has invited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the COP28 climate summit it is hosting at the end of 2023, possibly placing him in the same venue as Western leaders who have opposed and sanctioned him for years.

The invitation was extended by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Syrian state news agency Sana reported after the UAE Embassy in Damascus tweeted the same.

“COP28 is committed to an inclusive COP process that produces transformational solutions,” a COP28 spokesman said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

“This can only happen if we have everyone in the room.”

Thousands of world leaders, diplomats and dignitaries are expected to attend the summit in Dubai in December.

Fellow Arab states are warming to Syria again after isolating Mr Assad for over a decade following his deadly crackdown on street protests that spiralled into a brutal civil war.

Bilateral diplomatic relations ramped up in the wake of the devastating Feb 6 earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey. Then, last week, the Arab League readmitted Syria, and Saudi Arabia invited Mr Assad to the League summit in Jeddah on Friday.

While Arab countries including the UAE have actively sought to re-establish ties with Damascus, the United States is sceptical and has said it does not see the merit in Mr Assad’s readmission to the Arab League. REUTERS

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