Saudi state television reports that the two countries are in talks to resume consular services.
Saudi Arabia and Syria are in talks to resume consular services between the two countries, Saudi state television said, indicating a possible re-establishment of ties between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia, which supported the Syrian opposition in the country’s war, closed its embassy in Damascus in 2012 and expelled the Syrian ambassador.
“As part of the kingdom’s readiness to facilitate the provision of necessary consular services between the two nations, talks are underway with officials in Syria to resume consular services,” the Al-Ekhbariya channel said on Thursday, adding that citing a State Department source.
The channel added that the State Department source was commenting on international media reports.
Earlier on Thursday, Reuters news agency had reported that Saudi Arabia and Syria had agreed to reopen their embassies, citing three knowledgeable sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Contacts between Riyadh and Damascus had gained momentum following a landmark agreement to restore ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad, a regional source with ties to Damascus told Reuters.
The restoration of ties between Riyadh and Damascus would mark the most significant development yet in moves by Arab states to normalize ties with al-Assad, which many Western and Arab states shunned after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
The two governments were preparing to reopen embassies after Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday in the second half of April, a second regional source aligned with Damascus said.
The decision was the result of talks in Saudi Arabia with a senior Syrian intelligence official, according to one of the regional sources and a diplomat in the Gulf.
The Saudi government’s communications office, the kingdom’s foreign ministry and the Syrian government have not officially commented on the matter.
Saudi state television later confirmed that talks were underway with the Syrian foreign ministry to resume consular services, citing a Saudi foreign ministry official.
The seemingly sudden breakthrough could indicate how the deal between Tehran and Riyadh may contribute to other crises in the region, where their rivalry has fueled conflict, including the war in Syria.
The United States and some of its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, had supported some of the Syrian rebels. Al-Assad managed to defeat the opposition in most of Syria, thanks in large part to Iran and Russia.
The US, an ally of Saudi Arabia, has resisted moves by regional countries to normalize ties with al-Assad, citing the brutality of his administration during the conflict and the need to see progress towards a political solution.
When asked about the rapprochement, a State Department spokesman said the US “position on normalization remains unchanged” and would not encourage other countries to normalize ties with al-Assad.
The United Arab Emirates, another US strategic partner, has taken the lead in normalizing contacts with al-Assad, recently hosting him in Abu Dhabi with his wife.