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The New Arab

Syria spy chief in Egypt to discuss 'Assad support'

Mamluk is considered to be a key member of Assad's inner circle [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 October, 2016

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Syrian security services chief Ali Mamlouk has met with Egyptian officials in his first public foreign visit in five years to discuss Egypt publicly backing the embattled Assad regime.

Syrian security services chief Ali Mamlouk met with Egyptian officials in his first public foreign visit in five years to discuss Egypt publicly backing the embattled Syrian regime.

Syrian state news said Mamlouk met with Egyptian head of general intelligence Khaled Fawzy and other "high-level security officials" during his one-day visit.

The Syrian and Egyptian officials "agreed on coordinating stances politically between Syria and Egypt... and boosting coordination for combating terrorism hitting both countries," SANA said, while Egyptian state media chose not to report on the meeting.

An Egyptian political source told a The New Arab correspondent that the officials discussed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi taking a stronger public stance in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Both sides discussed the possibility of Egypt hosting talks between Syrian parties that accept Bashar al-Assad remaining in power as part of the Russian-backed political roadmap for the country," the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

"They have agreed to increase the level of cooperation between the Assad and Sisi regimes, starting with Egypt taking a stance in support of Assad staying in power or at least active in politics, as well as rejecting 'compromising Syrian state institutions'."

The source added that the officials also discussed fighting the Islamic State group [IS] and sending Egyptian militants detained in Syria to Cairo for investigation and trials.

The meeting will likely further anger Saudi Arabia, one of the main backers of Sisi and Syrian rebel groups.

Earlier this month, Cairo voted in favour of a UN Security Council resolution drafted by regime ally Russia on halting violence in Syria.

Two days later, Cairo announced Saudi oil giant Aramco halted petroleum shipments for October, which were part of a deal signed in April for Aramco to deliver 700,000 tonnes of products monthly to Egypt.

Mamlouk is the highest ranking Syrian official to publicly visit Egypt over the past two years, however, he has met with Egyptian officials in Cairo in the past.

He is considered to be a key member of Assad's inner circle and is blacklisted under EU sanctions.

Mamlouk's last public appearance was in May 2015 in a meeting between Assad and the head of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, Alaedin Boroujerdi.

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