Syrian President in Britain: “Optimistic” war against Iraq could be avoided
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday he was "optimistic" that a US-led war on Baghdad could be avoided, following talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the first official visit to Britain by a Syrian leader.
"I don't think our job is to expect or not to expect," said Assad when asked, at a press conference with the British Premier, about ongoing UN inspections for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.
"But I'm optimistic now," he said. "Until now, what we see is good cooperation from the Iraqi government. We hope this cooperation will continue until this crisis is resolved peacefully."
Prime Minister Blair, for his part, said British officials were still examining Iraq's declaration to the United Nations Security Council on weapons of mass destruction.
However, he reiterated London’s view that "if there is a breach (in Iraq's obligation to give up WMD), action will follow."
Assad held talks Monday with Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and is to meet with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Syrian leader is expected to meet with Defense Minister Geoff Hoon.
Moreover, Assad told Monday's press conference that "we don't have in Syria organizations supporting terrorism," but rather "press officers" which enable Palestinians to air their viewpoints.
"Palestinians have a right to have someone to express their opinion," he said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)