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URGENT Syria and Egypt Restore Relations After 12-Year Rift

December 27, 1989

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Syria and Egypt today agreed to restore diplomatic relations after a 12- year rift, the two governments announced.

Syria broke ties with Egypt in late 1977 when then-President Anwar Sadat opened peace negotiations with Israel.

A summit between presidents Hafez Assad of Syria and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt will take place early in January, the prime ministers of the two countries said in a joint statement released in Cairo and Damascus.

″The governments of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Arab Republic of Egypt have agreed to resume full diplomatic relations, effective Wednesday, December 27, 1989,″ the statement in Damascus said.

″This comes to express the determination of the two peoples to consolidate brotherly relations in all fields,″ it said.

The breakthrough occurred after a series of meetings this years between officials of the two Arab countries.

Earlier today, Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Sedki hinted during a visit to Damascus that the two countries would resume relations.

Sedki, the first such high-ranking Egyptian official to visit Damascus since the rift began, received a warm welcome by his counterpart, Mahmoud Zoubi, when he arrived at Damascus airport.

After an official ceremony and a brief meeting in the VIP lounge at Damascus airport, the two prime ministers drove to the Muhajereen Presidential Palace for a meeting with Assad, state-run Damascus radio reported.

The broadcast quoted Sedki as saying in an arrival statement that he was ″very pleased″ to visit Syria and that he was carrying a message to Assad from Mubarak. He did not disclose the contents of the letter.

″Egypt’s goal is to unify ranks with Syria and consolidate cooperation between our two countries,″ Sedki said.

Zoubi told reporters, ″We are looking forward to more cooperation and coordination for the benefit of the entire (Arab) nation.″

He said restoring ties ″will open a new page in the history of our common destiny. Developments witnessed by the Arab world require that Syria and Egypt return to each other on the basis of their historical and fraternal bonds.″

Cairo-Damascus relations were severed in December 1977, one month after Sadat visited Jerusalem to begin a peace process that led to the signing of the U.S.-sponsored Camp David peace treaty in March 1979.

Sixteen other Arab states severed relations with Egypt after the treaty. All except Syria and Libya had since restored ties with Cairo.

Egypt’s ties with Libya have improved but have not been restored.

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