Historic visit to Turkey by Syrian Premier
Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustapha Miro is expected to visit Turkey in late May in a bid to strengthen relations between Damascus and Ankara which were on the brink of war four years ago, a Turkish diplomat said Wednesday.
"Such a visit is being planned for the end of the month, but no date has yet been set," the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
Hurriyet newspaper said the Syrian Prime Minister's visit, the first of its kind in 26 years, was expected to take place on May 28-29.
In the course of the visit, the two sides would sign a "friendship and cooperation document" of principles to guide bilateral cooperation, a draft which has been on hold since it was outlined in November 2000, Hurriyet said.
Turkey and its southern neighbor Syria had long been disputed over Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who had found refuge in Syria.
In 1998, Turkey threatened military action if Syria did not flush out Ocalan and stop sheltering his militants, who have fought the Ankara government for Kurdish self-rule in southeast Turkey.
Tension eased in October 1998 when Ocalan left Damascus and Syria signed a security cooperation accord with Turkey, opening the door to a thaw in ties and a series of cooperation initiatives.
In spite a notable improvement, bilateral relations are still marred by Syrian claims over the southern Turkish province of Hatay, often shown as a Syrian territory on Syrian maps, and disputes over water sharing.
Damascus, along with Baghdad, accuse Ankara of monopolizing water sources in the drought-stricken region by building dams over the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, which originate in Turkey and flow down to Syria and Iraq. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)