Vastavam web: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus on Sunday, the first such visit by an Arab leader since the start of the Syrian conflict, Syrian state media said. President Bashar al Assad welcomed him at the airport, official photos showed. Many Arab countries have shunned Assad since the conflict that began early in 2011 after protests calling for his downfall swept Syria.
Assad was quoted as saying his country would remain committed to its “Arab identity” despite the conflict in which Syria had accused some Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, of fuelling it by arming rebels seeking to overthrow Assad’s rule. Although many Arab countries have closed their embassies or downgraded their ties with Damascus, there have been growing calls in the Arab world in recent months to normalise ties with Syria and give it back its seat in the Arab League.