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UAE invites Syria's Assad to COP28 climate summit

FILE PHOTO: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad addresses the new members of parliament in Damascus

DUBAI (Reuters) -The United Arab Emirates has invited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the COP28 climate summit it is hosting at the end of the year, possibly placing him in the same venue as Western leaders who have opposed and sanctioned him for years.

The invitation was extended by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Syrian state news agency SANA reported after the UAE embassy in Damascus tweeted the same.

"COP28 is committed to an inclusive COP process that produces transformational solutions," a COP28 spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

"This can only happen if we have everyone in the room."

Thousands of world leaders, diplomats and dignitaries are expected to attend the summit in Dubai in December.

Fellow Arab states are warming to Syria again after isolating Assad for over a decade following his deadly crackdown on street protests that spiralled into a brutal civil war.

Bilateral diplomatic relations ramped up in the wake of the devastating Feb. 6 earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey. Then, last week, the Arab League readmitted Syria and Saudi Arabia invited Assad to the League summit in Jeddah on Friday.

While Arab countries including the UAE have actively sought to re-establish ties with Damascus, the United States is sceptical and has said that it does not see the merit in Assad's re-admission to the Arab League.

(Reporting by Jana Choukeir and Kinda Makieh, writing by Maha El Dahan; editing by Kirsten Donovan, Mark Heinrich and Nick Macfie)