Syria and the European Union (EU) launched Monday, April 23, a new round of negotiations on the signing of an association accord which could eventually lead to the creation of a free trade zone, the official SANA agency reported.
For the opening of the sixth round of negotiations since 1998, Tufiq Ismail, Syria's vice minister of state for planning, stressed the importance of the agreement, which will lead, he said, "to a durable development partnership".
"We want these negotiations to succeed, and at the same time, we are conscious of the challenges we are facing to modernize the economy", State Planning Minister Issam Zaim was quoted as saying Sunday by the agency.
The discussions, which will be held in Damascus, will focus Monday on trade exchanges and economic cooperation, and Tuesday on political issues, according to Zaim, who is heading the negotiations with the EU.
The association accord, which has been under negotiation between Syria and the EU since 1998, will give the EU preferential access to the still-closed Syrian market and should result in a free trade zone, at the most 12 years after it comes into force. — (AFP, Damascus)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )