Flags of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are seen on a highway in Kuwait City on December 3, 2017. Image Credit: AFP

DOHA: Nine Arab countries have been invited to discuss relations with Syria in Saudi Arabia this week, the Qatari foreign ministry said on Tuesday, as efforts mount to reduce Damascus’s long isolation.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - and ministers from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan are due to meet in Jeddah on Friday, foreign ministry spokesperson Majed Al Ansari said.

“The main objective is to discuss the situation in Syria,” he told a briefing.

Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad, diplomatically isolated since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, has visited the UAE and Oman over the past two months.

Saudi Arabia announced last month that it has started talks with Damascus about resuming consular services.

Syria was expelled from the Arab League over the crackdown on protests that unleashed the war.

An Arab League summit is expected to be held in Riyadh in May.

Ansari said that Saudi Arabia had called the “consultative meeting” through the GCC and that Qatar’s position on Syria has not changed.

“There are many developments regarding the situation in Syria and Arab views towards Syria’s return to the Arab League,” the spokesperson added.

He said Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani would attend the meeting. The Iraqi government said it was considering the invitation.

The GCC secretariat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Talks “will focus on exchanging views on this issue and the standing of each country on the situation” in Syria, the Qatari spokesperson said. He added that Iraq, Jordan and Egypt had been invited as they are “concerned countries”.