US senator ''raises doubts'' on Assad's rule in Syria, says ''under influence of old guard''
US Senator Bill Nelson, who met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week in Damascus, "came away with the impression that Assad is finding it difficult to rule Syria and is under the heavy influence of the old guard in the Ba'ath regime", according to HaAretz Thursday.
The daily said that in a report that reached Israel a day earlier about the Assad-Nelson discussions, "doubts were raised about Assad's ability to make decisions and implement them".
However, the paper cited an unidentified American source as saying Washington "did not encourage Israel to avoid renewing negotiations with Syria".
"We don't trust Assad and don't like him and maybe his proposal was only spin for the media. But we take Syria seriously, and if Israel wants to talk with Syria, we won't get in its way."
According to the Tel-Aviv based paper, the US Senator asked the Syrian president about his country's "support for Palestinian terror and Hizbullah" and was met with "evasiveness". Assad, according to the report, did not deal directly with the American complaints.
Asked about "Iranian weapons transports to Hizbullah through Syria", Assad said, according to the daily, "Is there any evidence?"
In response to questions about Palestinian factions in Damascus, Assad answered, "There are thousands of them in the territories and only a handful in Damascus. It's not the problem." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)