Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Monday visited Turkey and Syria, marking the time in over a decade that a high-level official from Egypt has traveled to either country.

Shoukry met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the nation’s capital of  Damascus to express his support of the Syrian people in light of the recent devastating earthquakes resulting in more than 50,000 deaths in early February.

“The goal of the visit is primarily humanitarian, and to pass on our solidarity – from the leadership, the government and the people of Egypt to the people of Syria,” Shoukry said.

Al-Assad has been largely cut off from the Arab world since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. It was only last year that he made his first trip to an Arab nation when he visited then-Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in United Arab Emirates.

While in Turkey, the hardest hit nation from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, Shoukry met with his counterpart, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

He issued a statement of sympathy to those suffering from the devastating incident and promised “continuity of aid for supporting Turkey and its brotherly people.”

Shoukry said his time in Syria and Turkey was not just for humanitarian purposes but that it also  “reflects the interest for relations between Egypt and the two countries [to] return to their normal status.”

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