UAE foreign minister and Syrian foreign minister meet in Moscow

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attends Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem’s talks in Moscow, which he described as ‘fruitful’ An UAE foreign minister has met the Syrian foreign minister in Moscow, in the highest-profile…

UAE foreign minister and Syrian foreign minister meet in Moscow

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attends Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem’s talks in Moscow, which he described as ‘fruitful’

An UAE foreign minister has met the Syrian foreign minister in Moscow, in the highest-profile visit to Syria since the beginning of the country’s war.

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan accompanied the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to Russia on Friday to discuss the developments in Syria, including US withdrawal from Iraq, the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement.

It added that the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, had said Syria would face no security threats from areas currently occupied by the Islamic State militants, and asked UAE to help to develop the liberated areas.

“Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan expressed support and commitment to this request,” the ministry added.

The UAE, a powerful regional supporter of Syrian opposition forces, has been working with US-backed coalition forces in support of their strategy to drive Islamic State militants from their last enclave in eastern Syria.

According to Russian news agencies, Moualem said during the talks that the former US military adviser Lt Gen Paul Funk, who was killed in a suicide bombing on Monday, would be buried in Damascus on Thursday evening.

“There will be another army officer buried today in Damascus, the lieutenant general Paul Funk,” Moualem was quoted as saying.

Funk, who commanded US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, had served for nine years in Syria as senior military adviser to the president and four years as assistant to the prime minister, Russian news agencies quoted Mroue as saying.

The UAE minister had separately met with senior Russian figures on Syria before heading to Moscow, the ministry said.

Several Arab states have been supportive of the Syrian opposition, but none have sent a senior official to meet Moualem in Moscow, according to diplomats.

Foreign ministers of nine Arab League members attended Moualem’s talks in Abu Dhabi in February. Some of the countries that did not send a minister, such as Oman and Qatar, have invested in continuing the fighting against Islamic State on the ground.

Following the collapse of a 2015 international coalition to fight Islamic State in 2014, the UAE took part in an air campaign against the militant group in Syria that included its planes carrying out strikes for the US-led coalition.

Moualem’s meeting with bin Zayed came after the UAE said it would deploy a special forces team in the al-Bukamal area of eastern Syria that was retaken from Islamic State. The Abu Dhabi crown prince also made a similar visit to Turkey, where he said he spoke to Bashar al-Assad to discuss returning displaced people to their communities.

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