Sources: Syrian and U.S. Presidents to Meet Next Month
Sources in Damascus said on Saturday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, will meet with United States President George W. Bush next February, according to the Saudi Press Agency. However, the sources did not mention when or where the talks would take place.
According to these sources, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had discussed the possibility of the two leaders meeting during his last visit to Syria, in November. Blair visited Damascus to try to receive support for a campaign against terrorism, but he and the Syrian President failed to agree on the definition of “terrorism”.
Since the end of the Cold War, Syria has attempted to improve its relations with the West, particularly with the United States. Syria supported the anti-Iraq coalition during the Gulf War, and in October 1991 joined the Middle East peace process by engaging in peace negotiations with Israel. Despite these developments, Syria remains on the U.S. State department's list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
Late Syrian President, Hafez Al Assad had met with former United States President Bill Clinton in Switzerland a few months before his demise. Syria and the United States have held thus far five Summit meetings.
Syria took a seat on the United Nations Security Council at the beginning of the new year. Syria won a nonpermanent, two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council in a secret ballot vote held in October 2001.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher refused to say in October how the U.S. had voted, but added that his country would “continue to express...concerns regarding terrorism with the Syrian government”. Boucher cited that "The United States will also continue to expect Syria to meet its obligation to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms to fulfill all Security Council resolutions and to contribute to international peace and security, responsibilities that are only increased by its membership on the Security Council". (Albawaba.com)
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