Far-right Italy government mulls Syria embassy reopening
Italy's government is mulling the reopening of its embassy in war-torn Syria, a move which would make it the first European country to do so since the devastating 2011 conflict began.
Italy closed its embassy in Damascus and repatriated civil service staff in 2012 to protest what it called the "unacceptable" crackdown on citizens by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said on Friday that the government is considering reopening its embassy.
"We are working to assess if and when," he said, according to ANSA.
"Naturally it is very important that the situation in Syria heads towards a more normal outlook. Things on this front have not accelerated".
Italy has maintained low level relations with Syria throughout the course of the brutal conflict, condemning Syrian regime violations but never openly backing the opposition movement.
Last year a secret meeting is alleged to have taken place between the notorious head of the Assad regime's secret services, Ali Mamlouk, and top Italian officials.
The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) said Italy's decision to host the meeting violated an EU travel ban on Mamlouk.
Earlier this week the UK denied reports that it is renovating its embassy in Damascus and planning to return its ambassador to the Syrian capital, with a British special envoy insisting relations with Bashar al-Assad's regime will remain frozen.
Italy's overtures to reopening its Syria embassy come amid signs of a regional rapprochement between several Arab states and the Syrian regime.
Sudan's embattled leader Omar al-Bashir visited Damascus in December, a move followed shortly by the UAE reopening its embassy in the Syrian capital and Bahrain resuming diplomatic ties with the Assad regime.
The Syrian war began when Assad responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings.
At least tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.
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