Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has urged India to help his government in reconstructing the economy of the war ravaged country.

President Assad made the request during his meeting with Indian Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar in Damascus on Saturday. The Indian minister arrived in Damascus exactly seven months after Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem visited New Delhi to seek India’s economic and political support.

According to sources close to the Indian ministry, the two leaders discussed various important bilateral, regional and global issues and the current political situation in the West Asian nation. Both President Asad and Akbar acknowledged that terrorism was a global problem which touched every nation and age.

Meanwhile, the Syrian president described India as a growing power, saying that New Delhi could play an important role in meeting the challenge of terrorism. He also welcomed India’s objective position on the Syrian conflict and stressed that India should not stay away from the global coalition fighting the ISIS.

The visiting Indian minister assured the president that the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi would soon change its security policy in order to fight terror. Akbar informed President Asad that India did not join the global coalition against the ISIS because such a move could lead to sectarian clashes between the Indian Muslims. However, India is ready to strengthen its intelligence network and start security consultations with countries, like Syria and Iraq, in near future, he said.

Akbar also highlighted the century-old ties between India and Syria and confirmed India’s support to the Syrian people who were fighting against ISIS and other terrorist organisations. He expressed hope that the Syrian people would successfully defend their homeland. According to Akbar, India is ready to offer all that could help Syria in alleviating the suffering of its people, apart from contributing effectively to the Syrian development process and reconstruction.

Akbar arrived in Damascus on the second leg of his August 17-23 three-nation West Asia visit. Earlier, he met Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil in Beirut. On Monday, Akbar arrived in Iraq on the third and final leg of his tour.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog – Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]