Western intelligence agencies have visited Damascus for talks on combating radical Islamist groups, Syria’s deputy foreign minister has told the BBC.
Faisal Mekdad said there was a schism between Western security officials and politicians who are pressing President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
The growth of jihadist groups among rebels fighting President Assad has caused international concern.
In a recent interview, Mr Mekdad told BBC Newsnight that many Western governments had finally understood that there was no alternative to the leadership of President Assad.
Asked if Western intelligence agencies – including British intelligence – had recently visited Damascus, he said: “I will not specify but many of them have visited Damascus, yes.”
On the subject of whether Syria was getting more requests from Western countries to have their diplomats return to Damascus, he added: “Yes, there are many countries who are approaching us.
“Of course some are waiting for Geneva, some are saying we are exploring the possibilities, some are saying we want to co-operate on security measures because those terrorists they are sending from Western Europe into Turkey, into Syria, have become a real threat to them.”
The BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet said informed sources had confirmed meetings between Western and Syrian intelligence officials.
The growing numbers of foreign Islamist fighters from Europe means there are common concerns, our correspondent says, but it is not clear how far the West is prepared to make common cause with a regime it holds responsible for the Syrian civil war.
The UK government denied allegations its intelligence officials had been involved in such co-operation.