Syrian President Bashar al Assad has been invited to attend this year’s COP28 climate talks in Dubai.
Mr Assadwhose country remains mired in a years-long civil war, was asked to the top Monday and if he does attend, he will share a venue with Western leaders who have opposed and sanctioned him for years.
He was invited by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA and the UAE Embassy in Damascus.
The agency showed footage of Mr Assad reading the letter alongside an Emirati diplomat in the Syrian capital.
“COP28 has embarked on an inclusive COP process that produces transformational solutions,” a COP28 spokesperson said.
“That can only happen if we have everyone in the room.”
Syria is a party to the Paris climate agreement and the Kyoto protocol.
Scientists have linked a drought in Syria that began in 2007 to climate change and argued it likely played a role in the country’s civil war.
The invitation comes as Arab states rebuild diplomatic ties with Syria more than a decade after Mr Assad’s brutal crackdown on street protests against his rule escalated into a civil war that killed a half a million people and displaced half the country’s population.
The Assad regime has been accused of using chemical weapons against the Syrian people.
Bilateral relations have strengthened following the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey in February.
Mr Assad is due to attend the Arab League summit on Friday in the Saudi city of Jeddah after being readmitted to the league after years of exclusion from regional policy.
Although Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates have actively sought to restore ties with Damascus, the United States remained skeptical and said it saw no point in readmitting Mr. Assad to the Arab League.