UAE rows with opposition over Syria visit

By Nick Ballon

BBC Middle East Affairs analyst

The decision has triggered outrage among the opposition in Syria

Opposition figures in Syria are in uproar, accusing the UAE of “contravening international law” after it became the first country to visit Bashar al-Assad since the conflict began.

The country’s foreign minister has held talks with President Assad, where he is said to have welcomed the Syrian leader back to his former cabinet.

Many countries have refused to visit the regime since the conflict began, with critics saying that it was still responsible for atrocities.

The UAE’s rulers say they want to talk about the future of Syria.

But the timing of the visit is coming as the international community is looking to seize on the violent crackdown by President Assad’s forces as a key factor at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York next week.

Syrian opposition groups say they fear the foreign minister’s visit has caused further chaos and raised the chances of a military solution.

But the UAE government say it is not interfering in the Syria conflict and says the UAE would back any Syrian government in power.

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