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Jordan says more talks needed before Syria crossing reopens

Russian military patrolling the Nassib crossing. [Getty/File]

Date of publication: 10 October, 2018

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The Nassib crossing was closed in 2015 and was previously a critical transit route for hundreds of trucks a day transporting goods between the Gulf, Turkey and Lebanon.

More talks are needed with Syria before a crucial border crossing shut for three years can reopen again, Jordan said on Tuesday.

The Nassib crossing was closed in 2015 due to Syria's war and was previously a critical transit route for hundreds of trucks a day transporting goods between the Gulf, Turkey and Lebanon.

The Assad regime retook the crossing in July and wants to reopen the trade route, which used to generate millions of dollars in annual trade.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said technical committees from both countries began talks in September to reopen the crossing but are still working out arrangements.

"The border will open after the technical committees end all the necessary arrangements and measures needed to guarantee opening the borders serves the common interests of the two countries," Safadi said after talks with his Lebanese counterpart, Reuters reported.

The Syrian regime announced on 29 September that the crossing had been reopened but later retracted the statement and announced an opening date of 10 October.

Western diplomatic sources say Jordan is resisting pressure from Russia to reopen the crossing as it would boost the Syrian regime's claims that the seven-year war is ending and hand Assad a major gain.

In his visit to Amman, Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said he lobbied Safadi for a speedy reopening of the border.

"There is big hope that Nassib opens soon so that traffic goes back to its former strength," Bassil told reporters.

Despite the warming relations, Damascus and Amman differ widely on key regional issues, including the presence of Iranian proxies and troops in Syria - a key backer of the Assad regime.

Bashar al-Assad has been criticised by King Abdullah of Jordan for his brutal suppression of protests in 2011.

Since then, around 600,000 people have died in Syria, mostly from regime bombing and shelling of civilian areas.

Jordan also hosts more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees who have fled fighting and regime bombing since 2011.

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