Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-In his first statement since his appointment, new Saudi Arabian ambassador to Syria, Abdullah al-Eifan, informed Asharq Al-Awsat of the importance of the relationship between Riyadh and Damascus. Ambassador al-Eifan added that he will take up his post in Damascus soon.
After completing the orientation program prepared by the Saudi Foreign Ministry for new ambassadors, al-Eifan informed Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone that “I think that many people know the importance of the ties between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Syrian Arab Republic, whether this is on a regional or a bilateral level.”
Saudi-Syrian relations deteriorated in recent years as a result of the two countries contrasting attitudes on Arab issues; however the initiative put forward by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz at the Kuwait Economic Summit called for an end to Arab differences, and this includes the Saudi – Syrian dispute.
Ambassador al-Eifan believes that the efforts made by King Abdullah to improve relations between Riyadh and Damascus and bridge the inter-Arab divide in order to implement inter-Arab unity will contribute to the bilateral ties between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to Syria, Ali al-Qahtani, was withdrawn from this position in early 2008 and transferred to Qatar. There has been no Saudi Arabian ambassador to Syria since February 2008.
The new Saudi Arabian ambassador to Syria hopes that he will succeed in achieving the goals set by the Saudi leadership with regards to his new position. Ambassador al-Eifan said “I pray that I can live up the expectations of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Crown Prince, and the Second Deputy Prime Minister and that I am able to help serve the relationship between the two countries and fulfill my duty to the Saudi nationals there [in Syria] in the manner required.”
Talks were held yesterday at the Institute of Diplomatic Studies that is affiliated to the Saudi Foreign Ministry regarding Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Syria. A number of specialists in Syrian affairs in the Saudi Foreign Ministry participated in these talks, as well as some governmental institutes such as the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy and Planning, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the International Islamic Relief Organization, the Saudi Customs Department, the Council for Saudi Chambers of Commerce, and the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasser) also participated in these talks.
Ambassador al-Eifan informed Asharq Al-Awsat that these talks that were held as part of the orientation program for new ambassadors He added that the discussion that took place had given him a huge amount of information that would aid him in taking up his new position.
For his part, Dr. Nasih Bin Nasih al-Baqmi, the director of the development program at the Institute of Diplomatic Studies, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this program is part of the Foreign Ministry efforts to generate new ambassadors and consuls and provide them with information on all aspects of the country where they will serve.