AMMAN: Syria has agreed to help end drug trafficking across its borders with Jordan and Iraq, according to a statement issued after a landmark meeting on Monday of Arab diplomats developing a roadmap to end Syria’s 12-year conflict.
The foreign ministers of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan met in the Jordanian capital Amman to discuss how to normalise ties with Syria as part of a political settlement of its war, which has shattered and divided the country.
The talks are the first between the Syrian government and a group of Arab countries since a decision to suspend Syria’s membership of the Arab League in 2011 after a crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad.
A final statement issued after the meeting said the officials had discussed pathways for the voluntary return home of millions of displaced Syrians and coordinated efforts to combat drug trafficking across Syria’s borders.
Arab ministers discuss roadmap to end the country’s 12-year conflict
It said that Damascus had agreed to “take the necessary steps to end smuggling on the borders with Jordan and Iraq” and work over the next month to identify who was producing and transporting narcotics into those two countries. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian foreign minister Faisal Mekdad.
Syria is accused by Arab governments and the West of producing the highly-addictive and lucrative amphetamine captagon and organising its smuggling into the Gulf.
Top Syrian officials and relatives of Assad have been put on sanctions lists in recent months in the United States, United Kingdom and European Union over the trade.
‘Steps on the ground’
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi said the meeting was “a start, and the process is ongoing” to secure an end to the conflict. “There must be steps on the ground that lead to an improvement in the reality in which Syria and the Syrians live,” Safadi said.
Asked whether they had discussed Syria’s return to the Arab League, Safadi said the decision would have to be taken by the body itself.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2023