Syria Wants to See Europe Play an ‘Effective Role’ in the Middle East
Syrian President Bashar al-Bassad said Wednesday he wanted to see Europe play an "effective role" in the Middle East, as he met Italian Interior Minister Enzo Bianco, a presidential spokesman said.
According to Gebran Kurie, Assad said he "favored an effective European role in applying international resolutions on the Middle East and believed that such a role was not in contradiction with international efforts to move the peace process forward."
Bianco said that Italy was ready to act for peace in the region.
He signed an agreement for cooperation in the battle against organized crime and drug trafficking, official SANA news agency reported.
The deal provides in particular for an exchange of information on drug trafficking, forgery of money and papers, and smuggling of archeological treasures, precious metals, works of art, stolen cars and toxic or radioactive material.
Earlier, Bianco and Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa Miro discussed bilateral cooperation and ways of improving trade links between the two countries, SANA reported.
Italy is the number one importer from Syria and one of the leading exporters to the country. Trade links between the two were worth 512 million Euros (around 500 million dollars) for the first six months of the year 2000, according to the Italian embassy in Damascus.
Bianco arrived in Damascus Tuesday and is due in Tehran Friday, where he should meet Iranian President Mohammad Khatami -- DAMASCUS (AFP)