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Jordanian officials in Damascus to discuss resuming commercial flights

Jordan operated two daily flights to Syria before suspending services in July 2012 as the Syrian war escalated
An Airbus A 321 aeroplane from Royal Jordanian airlines (AFP)

Jordanian officials are holding talks in Syria to discuss resuming commercial flights between Amman and Damascus, Petra news agency reported on Wednesday.

Haitham Mistu, the head of Jordan's civil aviation authority, said the delegation has travelled "to examine technical issues around the possibility of Jordanian commercial flights resuming their use of Syrian airspace".

Jordan upgraded its diplomatic representation in Damascus on Tuesday and appointed a charge d'affaires to work in the Syrian capital.

Unlike other Arab countries, Jordan did not shut its embassy after the Syrian government's crackdown on protests in 2011 sparked a civil war. In July 2012, Jordan suspended its two daily Royal Jordanian airlines flights to Syria, one to Damascus and one to the northern city of Aleppo.

In 2014, Jordan kicked out Syria’s ambassador in Amman, while Damascus accused the kingdom of supporting armed groups in southern Syria. In 2015, the Nassib border crossing between the two countries was closed after Syrian rebel fighters took control of the area. The crossing was reopened last October.

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Mistu said Wednesday's meetings were part of a risk-assessment programme, to be followed by a technical evaluation.

"Based on that evaluation, the appropriate technical decision will be taken," he said, without giving any timeframe.

The meeting was the latest in a series of moves by Arab states to rebuild ties with the Syrian government as the country's devastating civil war draws to a close.

Last month, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab leader to visit Damascus since the start of the war, and the United Arab Emirates became the first Gulf state to reopen its embassy there.

Syria's membership of the Arab League was suspended in 2011 over the government's violent response to peaceful protests, however, it is now expected that the body will soon extend an invitation back into its ranks.