Saudi invites Syrian President to attend Arab League summit

Saudi king with Syrian president.

The first invitation to the Arab summit, since the start of the country’s war in 2011, was sent to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday, according to the president.

The Saudi King Salman sent an invitation to Assad “to take part in the 32nd Arab League summit, which will be held in Jeddah on May 19,” according to a statement from the Syrian presidency.

The meeting, according to Assad, “will enhance joint Arab action to achieve the aspirations of the Arab peoples,” the statement continued. Nayef bin Bandar al-Sudairi, the Saudi ambassador to Jordan, handed out the invitation.

On Sunday, the Arab League welcomed back Syria’s government, securing Assad’s return to the Arab fold after years of isolation.

The pan-Arab body suspended Damascus in November 2011 over its crackdown on protests that spiraled into a war that has killed more than 500,000 people, displaced millions and battered the country’s infrastructure and industry.

The last Arab League summit Assad attended was in 2010 in Libya.

The invitation comes a day after Riyadh and Damascus announced that work would resume at their respective diplomatic missions in Syria and Saudi Arabia, after more than a decade of severed ties.

Assad had been politically isolated in the region since the war began, but a flurry of diplomatic activity has been underway in recent weeks after a decision by Saudi Arabia and Iran, a close ally of Damascus, to resume ties shifted the political landscape.

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