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Emirati companies flock to Damascus trade fair: state media


AFP Damascus (Syria)
Companies from the United Arab Emirates are taking part in the Damascus International Trade Fair, state media has said, months after their embassy reopened in the Syrian capital.
On Wednesday, a delegation of around 40 businessmen from the UAE arrived in Damascus "to take part in the international fair", pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said.
Late Thursday, a Syrian employee of an Emirati company said it was his firm's first time at the Damascus fair.
"We came with a high-level delegation from the Emirates led by the Emirati Federation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry," he told AFP at the fair.
The UAE reopened its Damascus embassy in December after a break of almost seven years.
Syrian state news agency SANA says some 1,700 companies from over 30 countries are taking part in this year's trade fair, which opened on Wednesday and runs to September 6.
Damascus is looking to rebuild a large swathe of war-torn Syria after a series of Russia-backed victories against rebels and jihadists since 2015, despite a raft of international sanctions.
The United States on Tuesday warned of possible US sanctions against any participants at the commercial event.
"We've received reports that some regional businessmen or chambers of commerce plan to participate in Damascus international trade fair," the US Embassy for Syria said on Twitter.
"We reiterate our warning that anyone doing business w/ Assad regime or its associates is exposing themselves to the possibility of US sanctions," it said.
Washington has slapped sanctions on Syrians close to the Damascus government and sought to hamper oil shipping to the country.
At the opening on Wednesday, Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis visited event sections dedicated to government allies Iran and Russia, as well as the UAE and Oman's chamber of commerce.
Asked about the American threats, he said they were not new and denounced an "agenda of sabotage and destruction", according to SANA.
The UAE broke ties with Syria in February 2012.
The Arab League had already suspended Syria's membership in November 2011, as the repression of nationwide protests demanding regime change was escalating into civil war.
Now in its eighth year, the conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.

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First Published: Aug 30 2019 | 8:25 PM IST

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