Erekat: More Arafat-Assad Meetings in Near Future
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed, during first official meeting Tuesday night on the sidelines of the Amman Arab summit, to hold more meetings in the future, according to senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
“The near future will witness more bilateral meetings between President Arafat and President Assad,” Erekat told Albawaba.com after the meeting, emphasizing the point that coordination is underway between the two sides at all levels.
The Palestinian official described the 45-minute meeting as “frank and deep.”
The two leaders had met earlier in the day for a brief talk.
"The two leaders discussed the challenges facing the Arab nation and Israel's refusal to recognize the points of reference of the Madrid conference" of 1991 that launched the Arab-Israeli peace process, he said.
Erekat, who attended the meeting, said the Palestinians looked forward to a new era of relations with Syria.
"The hand that President Assad is extending to the Palestinians will find Palestinian hands ready to shake it," he said in reference to a pledge by Bashar to bury the hatchet with the Palestinians.
"We offer our hands to our Palestinian brothers and tell them we stand beside them in the service of the Palestinian cause," Assad said in a speech to the opening session of the Arab summit earlier in the day.
"Let's forget the past," said Assad, whose late father considered Arafat a traitor to the Arab cause after he signed autonomy accords with Israel in 1993.
A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had told Albawaba.com that the meeting focused on three axes: the way both countries should deal with the new US administration, standing against Israeli new government, and coordinating Syrian and Palestinian peace negotiation with Israel.
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)