Rafael Grossi
Rafael GrossiLev Radin/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said he visited Damascus on Tuesday to restart talks focused on fostering confidence in the peaceful use of atomic energy by Syria, Reuters reported.

Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met with President Bashar Al-Assad, who had extended the invitation, and Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, according to the report.

"We're ready to start working on reigniting high-level dialogue between the IAEA and Syria, focusing on building confidence in the peaceful use of nuclear energy in Syria," Grossi wrote on social media after the visit, which was also reported by Syria's state news agency.

Grossi’s visit to Syria marks the first time in 13 years that IAEA officials have visited Syria. IAEA inspectors last visited the country in 2011, the year the civil war in Syria began.

The inspectors were seeking to revive a stalled IAEA investigation into activity at a site in Syria's eastern desert that US intelligence had deemed to be a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor intended to produce plutonium for atomic weaponry, before Israel bombed it and destroyed it in 2007.

The Vienna-based IAEA also sought information about other sites that may have been linked to the Deir al-Zor facility.

In 2015, Syria asked the IAEA for help in converting a nuclear facility and shipping abroad potentially dangerous nuclear material.