The Jordanian and Syrian foreign ministers, Safadi and Al-Miqdad, discussed “efforts to launch an Arab leadership role to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” according to a statement issued later by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.
A new consultative meeting on Syria, held Monday in Amman, with the participation of the foreign ministers of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt, discussed ways for the return of Syrian refugees from neighboring countries and for the Syrian state to extend its control over its lands.
A statement by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said that Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and his Syrian counterpart Faisal Al-Miqdad discussed coordination in order to combat drug smuggling across the border between the two countries.
According to a closing statement distributed after the meeting, the conferees agreed that “the voluntary and safe return of (Syrian) refugees to their country is a top priority and the necessary steps must be taken to start implementing it immediately.”
They called for strengthening cooperation between Syria and the countries hosting refugees, in coordination with the United Nations, “to organize voluntary and safe returns for refugees and end their suffering, according to specific procedures and a clear time frame.”
According to the United Nations, some 5.5 million registered Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
The meeting in Amman agreed that the Syrian government should start “identifying the necessary needs to improve public services provided in the areas of return of refugees, in order to consider providing Arab and international contributions to them.”
They also agreed that Damascus would clarify “the measures it will take to facilitate their return, including within the framework of their inclusion in the general amnesty decrees.”
The meeting also agreed to “support Syria and its institutions in any legitimate efforts to extend its control over its lands, impose the rule of law, end the presence of armed and terrorist groups (…) and stop foreign interference in Syrian internal affairs.”
For his part, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in statements after the meeting, “The current situation in Syria cannot continue, and the methodology that has been adopted over the past years in managing the crisis has not produced and will not produce anything but more ruin and destruction.”
And making it clear that this meeting is a continuation of the meeting held in Jeddah in mid-April, Al-Safadi confirmed that the Amman meeting “was good and positive.”
He added that the meeting focused “on the humanitarian side and on steps capable of alleviating the suffering of the brotherly Syrian people.”
“We focused on the refugee issue and agreed on mechanisms to start the voluntary return of refugees, in coordination with the United Nations,” he added.
Prior to the start of the meeting, which was held in an Amman hotel amidst strict security measures, Safadi met his Syrian counterpart, Faisal al-Miqdad.
Al-Safadi and Al-Miqdad discussed “efforts to launch a leading Arab role to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” according to a statement issued later by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.
This is the first official visit by a Syrian foreign minister to Jordan since the outbreak of the conflict in his country in 2011.
Al-Safadi received the foreign ministers of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan, and Iraq, Fouad Hussein, before entering the closed “consultative” meeting room.
In mid-April, a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries was held in Jeddah, in which Egypt, Iraq and Jordan also participated, to discuss the issue of Syria’s return to the Arab League, about a month before an Arab summit in Saudi Arabia.
In the Jeddah meeting, the ministers agreed on the importance of playing an Arab leadership role in efforts to end the crisis in Syria.
A few days after the meeting, the Saudi Foreign Minister visited Damascus, in the first official Saudi visit to Syria since the estrangement between the two countries with the start of the conflict in Syria 12 years ago.
Several Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, closed their embassies and withdrew their ambassadors from Syria, in protest of the Syrian regime’s handling of a “popular uprising” in 2011, which developed into a bloody conflict, during which Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries supported the Syrian opposition factions.
The League of Arab States suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011.
However, over the past two years, there have been signs of rapprochement between Damascus and several capitals, including Abu Dhabi, which restored diplomatic relations, and Riyadh, which held talks with Damascus about resuming consular services between the two countries.