Damascus, 3 May 2023 (TDI): President of the Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, has arrived in Syria as the head of a political and economic delegation on an official two-day visit.

Raisi was invited to Damascus, the Syrian capital, by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. His plane touched down at Damascus airport on Wednesday, and he was welcomed on the tarmac by Syrian Minister Mohammad Samer al-Khalil.

Security forces were heavily deployed in key parts of the Syrian capital, while billboards with portraits of Raisi and Assad reading “welcome” in Arabic and Persian lined the airport road.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani are among the officials accompanying Raisi on the trip.

The meeting comes at a crucial time in Iran-Syria relations amid Damascus’s reintegration into the Arab world. It comes just weeks after Iran’s landmark, Chinese-brokered agreement to restore ties with regional power Saudi Arabia, which has sparked a flurry of diplomacy in the Middle East.

In April, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan made his first visit to Damascus—the first by a Saudi official since the start of the war.

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Raisi’s visit was scheduled earlier in the year but reportedly got delayed. He is the first Iranian president to visit Damascus since 2010, when his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went to Damascus and met Assad alongside Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.

Assad welcomed Raisi to Syria with an official ceremony at the presidential palace in Damascus. The two discussed bilateral relations, economic cooperation, and developments in the Middle East. The Iranian delegation included several defense, energy, finance, and construction officials.

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The presidents of Iran and Syria signed a series of long-term cooperation agreements on oil and other sectors to bolster economic ties between the two allies.

Iranian and Syrian delegations have signed 15 cooperation agreements in the presence of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.