Mubarak, Assad call Israel to forsake nuclear weapons
Presidents Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt called Wednesday for Israel to forsake nuclear weapons, saying the Middle East should be a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
They issued a statement after a brief summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh that followed Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's call for other nations to abandon weapons of mass destruction, saying it would increase pressure on Israel to do likewise.
In a statement at the end of the summit, Assad and Mubarak stressed "current developments in the Middle East demonstrate the need to declare the Middle East a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction - including all states and Israel."
Ayman Abdul Wahhab, analyst in the Al Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, told Al Bawaba earlier today that “an official invitation of Syria by Washington to start official dialogue between the two countries will be among the issues discussed during the summit. Also, the Iraqi issue is expected to have been discussed between the two leaders.”
“I think the war-on-terror should be an important issue to discuss during the summit. The meeting between the two leaders is of great importance, especially after the Libyan initiative to clear the Middle East from WMDs” Abdul Wahhab added.
About Syrian-American relations, Abdul Wahhab explained “that lines of communication between the two counties are open and available… they don’t need a third party to help with any dialogue.” The analyst also expected that the Syrian president to ask his Egyptian counterpart - who is known for his strong relations with Washington - to influence the Bush administration into reconsidering sanctions on Syria. He also added “the Libyan initiative will have its impact on Syria whether directly of indirectly.”
Analysts have widely speculated that Syria would be the next candidate for any US-led attack after the unexpected Libyan announcement. American officials had previously accused Syria of attempting to produce chemical and biological weapons.
Syria had earlier welcomed the Libyan decision to abandon its WMD program, while also urging the international community to pressure Israel into taking a similar step. In a joint Syrian-Egyptian statement following the end of the summit, both countries said they would pressure Israel to stop its WMD program as well.
Israel has always refused to disclose any kind of information about its WMD program although, according to some experts, it is widely believed that Israel possesses an arsenal of upwards of 200 nuclear warheads. Israel and Syria have officially been at war since the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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