Syrian ambassador: Annapolis summit is only photo opportunity
Syria's ambassador to the United States described a Mideast peace summit that the Bush administration is organizing as a "waste," saying Wednesday that he would counsel his country against attending it.
"We don't seriously believe that this is a peace conference that will lead to anywhere," Ambassador Imad Moustapha said at a public affairs forum in San Francisco. No proposals had been circulated beforehand to lay the groundwork for progress at the gathering in Annapolis, Md., Moustapha said, according to the AP.
"Forgive us if we deduce that this is only about a photo opportunity and about people in Washington, D.C., telling their electorate, 'Look, don't accuse us of only starting wars; we're working for peace in the Middle East,'" the Syrian official said.
Damascus has said it will attend only if talks included the return of the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel during the 1967 war. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that the administration wants Syria to participate, but that the conference must focus on the Palestinians.
"And we are supposed to just come attend, be bemused, enjoy our time and leave?" Moustapha asked. "Personally, if my government will ask my opinion, I will say it will be a waste of money, buying those expensive airline tickets and reservations in hotels, just to come attend this event in Maryland and then go back to Syria."
Moustapha also rejected as "absolutely, absolutely untrue" allegations that a military facility attacked by Israeli warplanes in September housed a nuclear site. Syria has never sought nuclear technology, nor does it intend to do so "in the foreseeable future," he noted.