Saudi's Jubeir: 'Too early' to reopen Syria embassy
Saudi Arabia has ruled out reopening the kingdom's embassy in Syria, saying it is "too early" to restore diplomatic ties with President Bashar al-Assad's government, Trend reports referring to Aljazeera.
The comments were made on Monday by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir, who also said Saudi authorities would not take part in any reconstruction efforts in Syria without progress on a political process to end the country's eight-year-old war.
"The kingdom has always been keen on the integrity of the Syrian territory and the political solution," al-Jubeir told a joint press conference with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
"[And] the reopening of the embassy is related to the progress of the political process," he added.
Riyadh closed its embassy in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and pulled out its diplomats and staff in March 2012.
Al-Jubeir also said Riyadh, which backed rebels fighting Assad, was against reinstating Syria to the Arab League for now.
Syria was suspended from the pan-Arab body in 2011 and slapped with sanctions following Assad's brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.
The unrest escalated into the country's ongoing civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than 11 million others, according to the United Nations.
Assad has since recovered control of most of Syria with support from Russia, Iran and Tehran-backed groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), meanwhile, have backed armed groups opposed to Assad during the war.
In December last year, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab League leader to visit Damascus since the war in Syria began.
Shortly afterwards, the UAE, a Saudi ally, reopened its embassy in Damascus in December in a bid to re-engage with Assad and rebuild its influence in Syria as a means of heading off regional interference in "Arab affairs".
But the United States is lobbying other Gulf states to hold off on rehabilitating Syria, the Reuters news agency reported last month, citing five sources familiar with the process.