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|13 September, 2018

Syria and Jordan begin talks on opening vital border crossing

Amman hopes the opening of the border crossing will reactivate billions of dollars of annual transit trade between Europe and Gulf markets across Syria.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Logistics and transportation of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard

Image used for illustrative purpose. Logistics and transportation of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard

Getty Images/ Thatree Thitivongvaroon

AMMAN- Jordan and Syria held their first technical talks on opening a major border crossing in southern Syria that was recaptured from the opposition last July, a Jordanian official source said on Thursday.

Damascus, which took back the crossing from the opposition, hopes to reopen the Nassib route vital to its hopes of reviving Syria's shattered economy and rebuilding in territory under its control.

Amman also hopes the opening of the border crossing will reactivate billions of dollars of annual transit trade between Europe and Gulf markets across Syria.

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The source told Reuters a technical committee from the two countries held their first meeting on the border crossing on Wednesday to begin discussions on the practical arrangements from customs to security needed to reopen the crossing.

"The meetings will continue to put a complete view of all the arrangements linked to reopening the crossings in the coming period," the source said.

Another Jordanian official said the crossing could open by the end of this year.

The closure of the crossing has also weighted on Lebanese exporters who used it to export hundreds of millions of dollars of produce and goods to lucrative Gulf markets.

Jordan's private sector are also pinning hopes of a revival in bilateral trade in a major neighbouring market where Jordanian business have long standing ties.

The Syrian government has recovered control of most of the country with help from its allies Russia and Iran.

With Russian air power, government forces have this year defeated the armed opposition in the last remaining enclaves near the cities of Homs and Damascus, and swept through the rebel-held southwest.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg) ((suleiman.al-khalidi@thomsonreuters.com; +962 79 5521407; Reuters Messaging: suleiman.al-khalidi.reuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))