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Syria to reopen Tunisia embassy after more than 10 years

By AFP - Apr 12,2023 - Last updated at Apr 12,2023

DAMASCUS — War-torn Syria will reopen its diplomatic mission in Tunisia and appoint an ambassador there, Damascus and Tunis said in a joint statement on Wednesday after more than a decade of strained ties.

Syria's decision followed a similar move by Tunis on April 3, when Tunisian President Kais Saied instructed his foreign minister to begin procedures to appoint an ambassador to Damascus.

"In response to the initiative of the President of the Tunisian Republic... the Syrian government... decided to reopen the Syrian embassy in Tunisia, and to appoint an ambassador soon," Syria's official news agency SANA said quoting the statement.

Tunisia's Saied had said last month he planned to restore diplomatic relations with Syria.

It was the latest example of Arab outreach to the internationally isolated government in Damascus that has gathered pace since Syria and Turkey were hit by a devastating earthquake in February.

Since the quake, Syrian President Bashar Assad has received calls and aid from Arab leaders, momentum analysts say he could leverage to bolster regional support.

Assad has visited the United Arab Emirates, which restored ties in 2018, and Oman this year, and last month Saudi Arabia said it has started talks with Damascus about resuming consular services.

Tunisia expelled Syria's ambassador in 2012 over the government's repression of peaceful protesters that triggered more than a decade of civil war which has killed around half a million people and displaced millions more since 2011.

The Syrian government was bolstered when Russia intervened on its side from 2015 and has since regained control over much of the territory it lost in the early stages of the war.

The diplomatic rupture with Tunis, undertaken when former president Moncef Marzouki was still in office, was strongly criticised by the Tunisian opposition at the time.

In 2015, Tunisia took a step toward reestablishing relations when it designated a consular representative to Damascus to "follow" the situation of Tunisians in Syria.

Nine Arab countries are set to meet in Saudi Arabia later this week to discuss moves to end Assad's decade-old isolation.

The Arab League, which suspended Syria in 2011, is expected to hold a summit in Riyadh in May.

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