CAIRO: Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry will travel to Damascus on Monday in the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister since Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011, according to a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry.
Shoukry will visit Turkiye and Syria — both hit hard by a deadly earthquake on Feb. 6 — to “convey a message of solidarity from Egypt with the two countries” according to the foreign ministry statement.
Syria had been isolated by regional states over President Bashar Assad’s deadly crackdown of protests against him, with the Arab League suspending Syria’s membership in 2011 and many Arab countries pulling their envoys out of Damascus.
But Assad has benefited from an outpouring of support from Arab states following the quake, which killed more than 5,900 people across his country, according to a tally of UN and Syrian government figures.
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah El-Sisi spoke with Assad by phone for the first time on Feb. 7 and on Sunday, a delegation of top parliamentarians from around the region — including Egypt’s parliament speaker — met Assad in Damascus.
Shoukry met his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad in 2021 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Cairo has sent several shipments of earthquake aid to Syria in recent weeks.
Erdogan and El-Sisi met and shook hands during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and Turkish companies earlier this month committed to $500 million in new investments in Egypt.