Following Historic Visit: Joint Syrian-Lebanese Statement Says No Compromise on Palestinian Right of Return
Following the Syrian Lebanese summit held Sunday in Beirut, Syria made clear its terms of accepting the Saudi peace plan for the Middle East.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insisted in a joint statement there could be no compromise on the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their land and that Arabs should support the Palestinian intifada (uprising) against Israel.
"Syria which supports the uprising of the heroic Palestinian people sees that the circumstances call for effective and united Arab positions that would be in harmony with the size of the current dangers and challenges, a matter which requires solid and honest cooperation," the joint statement said.
It stated Syria would remain committed "to reactivating a just and comprehensive peace" based on U.N. resolutions and the 1991 Madrid land-for peace formula, which it said stipulates Israeli withdrawal from all Arab lands occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.
The statement also called for "the elimination of all Jewish settlements and the creation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital Jerusalem and the withdrawal from the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel from Syria in June 1967.
"Syria is committed to the right of return of Palestinian refugees according to U.N. resolutions," it added.
Syria's President Bashar Assad made an historic visit to Beirut Sunday morning.
Cannons fired a 21-gun salute as Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Rafik Hariri greeted al- Assad at the Beirut International Airport, according to AP.
Diplomats and official sources said Syria was worried that the timing of the Saudi proposal would help Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon out of his crisis of failing to suppress the Palestinian uprising by force.
"While the Saudis stressed normalized relations with Israel, Syria has always focused first on full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, leaving any discussion of bilateral relations to a final phase, once Israel agreed to a pullout," said Michael Young, a commentator in Beirut's Daily Star English-language newspaper.
Assad's visit - the first by a Syrian president to Lebanon in 27 years - will come ahead of an Arab summit meeting in Beirut on 27-28 March.
The Syrian leader's was his first to Lebanon since he succeeded his late father, Hafez Assad, in June 2000 and the third ever by a Syrian ruler. His father visited Lebanon in 1975 and former Syrian president Shukri Kuwatli travelled there in 1947, AFP reported.
However, it should be noted that Hafez Assad did meet with former Lebanese President Elias Sarkis at Chtaura, just inside the Lebanese border with Syria, in 1976. (Albawaba.com)
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