Written by Staff Writer, CNN Abu Dhabi
The UAE’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived in Damascus on Friday for talks with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
The meeting, first reported by Syrian state media, was the highest-profile Emirati visit to Syria since the outbreak of the war in 2011.
It comes a week after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem visited the UAE to discuss the “political process.”
The UAE has played a key role in supporting the moderate rebel forces in Syria, but it has also intervened in the war to deploy forces in Iraq, Libya and the Yemen, where it is supporting the US-backed coalition battling the Houthi rebels.
A UAE warship with dozens of Emirati soldiers onboard clashed with a Yemeni group led by an Islamist cleric in the Red Sea at the end of January.
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Syria, which sits on the Levantine Coast, is home to an almost invisible tangle of regional allegiances, which have in varying degrees facilitated the war’s continuance and often complicated its eventual resolution.
Damascus has maintained close relations with Iran, Moscow and Lebanese Hezbollah.
Damascus’ ties with Turkey have endured for decades but have deepened after last year’s ceasefire deal, where Ankara is believed to have deployed an extensive support program for the Syrian army and allies, including Ahrar al-Sham.
Support from Russia and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have also been key to Damascus’ eventual survival and the eventual entry of the Arab League country into the postwar peace process.