Jordan and Syria agree to reopen Naseeb border crossing

Passage 'vital to trade' between Jordan and Syria will reopen on Monday for first time in three years, say officials.

    Re-opening of Naseeb-Jaber crossing will be a major diplomatic victory for Syria's government [File: Raad Adayleh/AP]
    Re-opening of Naseeb-Jaber crossing will be a major diplomatic victory for Syria's government [File: Raad Adayleh/AP]

    Jordan and Syria have agreed to reopen a vital border crossing between the two countries, three years after the commercial lifeline fell to rebel groups and traffic was halted.

    The Naseeb crossing would be opened on October 15, the Jordanian Petra news agency cited Jumana Ghunaimat, spokesperson for Jordan government, as saying on Sunday.

    The decision came after technical teams from the two countries met on the Jordanian side.

    The passage, known as Jaber to Jordanians, "is a vital lifeline for trade between the two brotherly countries Jordan and Syria through them to other Arab countries," Ghunaimat said, according to Petra.

    However, although the crossing will be officially opened on Monday, it will not open to normal traffic just yet, said Nael Husami, head of the Amman chamber of industry.

    Syria's Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar also confirmed the crossing's reopening, according to Syria's state-run Sana news agency.

    The move comes after Syrian government troops reclaimed their side of the crossing in July as part of a deal with rebel fighters.

    The closure of the passage in 2015 cut a crucial transit route for hundreds of vehicles a day transporting goods between Turkey and the Gulf, and Lebanon and the Gulf, in multi-billion dollar annual trade.

    The resumption of commercial trade through the crossing would bring major relief to President Bashar al-Assad's government. 

    Syria - Iraq crossing

    Also on Sunday, Syrian and Iraqi foreign ministers discussed accelerating efforts to reopen the border between their countries, according to Sana.

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari, who was in Damascus on on a three-day visit, met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, and discussed "speeding up" the reopening of their border, Sana reported.

    At present, Syria's crossing with Iraq is only open for government or military uses, while its frontier with Turkey is only open into rebel-held areas.

    The war-torn country's only other normally operating border is with Lebanon, which itself has no other functioning land borders. 

    Opening the Syria-Jordan border will also be important for Lebanon, which relies on Syria for overland connections to all other countries because its only other frontier is with Israel, with which it has no ties.

    In July Lebanese caretaker economy minister Raed Khoury said it was vital for Lebanese exporters to be able once again to send produce overland through Syria to the wider region.

    Lebanese exports fell by 35 percent after the Syrian conflict began, Khoury said.

    The reopening of that crossing would mark a diplomatic victory for Assad, whose government has been isolated from its Arab neighbours since the war began in Syria in 2011.

    Arab countries have boycotted the Syrian government since the early days of the war, freezing its membership in the 22-member state Arab League.

    SOURCE: News agencies