DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad has received an invitation to attend the upcoming COP28 climate talks in Dubai later this year, even as his country’s years-long war over his government continues. .
Assad’s invitation to climate talks on Monday night comes as the Syrian president is already scheduled to attend this Friday’s Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, years after being shut out of regional politics. . A brutal crackdown by the Assad government on protesters in a 2011 Arab Spring uprising that challenged his rule escalated into a civil war and subsequently escalated into a regional conflict.
The war has killed half a million people and displaced half its population.
Assad’s invitation came in a letter from the Emirati leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported. The agency published footage of Assad reading the letter alongside an Emirati diplomat in Damascus. The United Arab Emirates had also severed ties with Assad, only to slowly restore them in recent years.
Asked for comment, the Emirati office organizing the upcoming climate conference said in a statement that the event marked “a historic opportunity for the world to come together, correct course and drive progress to keep alive the goals and ambitions of the UAE.” Paris Climate Agreement. ”
“COP28 is committed to an inclusive COP process that produces transformative solutions,” the statement added. “This can only happen if we have everyone in the room.”
Syria is party to both the Paris Climate Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol. Scientists have linked a drought in Syria that began in 2007 to climate change, saying it likely played a role in the conflict.
However, Assad’s invitation will likely increase the scrutiny of the Emirates before hosting the talks.
Activists have already criticized the United Arab Emirates for nominating the head of its dominant state oil company to chair the talks. That company has plans to increase its production of both crude oil and natural gas, fossil fuels that produce more of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide that UN negotiations hope to limit. But oil chief Sultan al-Jaber has also helped oversee the Emirates pledging tens of billions of dollars for renewable energy projects around the world.
The Conference of the Parties, from which COP gets its name, will take place at Expo City in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
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