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Syria FM on rare visit to Jordan signaling improved ties | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem made a rare visit to Jordan on Sunday, signaling improved relations between the two Arab neighbors.

Moallem, who came for a one-day visit, met behind closed doors with Jordanian Prime Minister Nader al-Dahabi. He was also scheduled to meet separately with his Jordanian counterpart, Salaheddine al-Bashir, and possibly Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Little details emerged from Moallem’s talks, which follow a Nov. 18 surprise visit by Abdullah to Damascus, where he met with President Bashar Assad.

At the time, Jordanian government officials said Abdullah urged Assad to send a representative to the U.S.-sponsored international peace conference, which was held in Annapolis, Maryland on Nov. 27.

Moallem declined to say why he was in Jordan. He only gave a vague arrival statement to reporters, saying that Jordan and Syria “are two brotherly neighbors, our people have unique ties and these visits persist because they enrich bilateral relations and tackle existing regional issues.”

Relations between Jordan and Syria have been frosty for years, particularly in the last few months over a host of political issues. Tensions rose last year in the wake of the summer 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, when Assad called some Arab leaders “half men” for not supporting Hezbollah during the war.

The last time Abdullah visited Syria was in February 2004, while Assad last visited his southern neighbor a year later.

Under a deal Abdullah concluded with Assad last month, Syria released 18 Jordanian prisoners and sent them home. Later this month, top Jordanian and Syrian officials are expected to convene a meeting of a committee, which oversees cooperation between the two countries, in yet another sign of improved ties. The exact date of the meeting of the Syrian-Jordanian Higher Committee has not yet been fixed. But it is expected that several trade and water agreements would be concluded then.