By Nabil Al Mulhem
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Shara is to leave for Paris Sunday where he will hold talks with President Jacques Chirac, sources at the foreign ministry told Albawaba.com.
The sources, who declined to be named, added that the visit ”comes within the framework of Syrian efforts to reinvigorate the peace talks with Israel.”
The official Syrian news agency, SANA, reported Saturday that Shara will deliver a message from President Bashar Assad to his French counterpart. The message deals with "developments in the region and bilateral relations," the agency said, without further details.
AFP quoted the French foreign ministry as saying that Shara would meet Chirac on Friday. However, diplomatic sources in France said he would not see Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine whose schedule will not permit it.
France, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union until December, is attempting to "facilitate" peace negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, said AFP. But according to the unnamed sources, Shara’s visit is also meant to prepare for a possible visit by President Assad to Paris.
Shara’s visit is in parallel to a current visit by Palestinian Minister of Planning Nabil Shaath who is due to brief Paris on the latest developments on the Palestinian-Israeli peace track.
The foreign minister’s visit comes also a day before Israel's acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami is due in Paris.
Ben Ami is scheduled to meet Vedrine Monday to discuss prospects for a Israeli-Palestinian peace accord after the collapse of July's Camp David summit, as well as the Israeli-Syrian track of the peace process which has been frozen since January, the French foreign ministry said.
The sources at the Syrian foreign ministry said that Syria believes that Europe should play a more direct role in the Peace Process and that this would benefit the Arab world.
Political circles in Syria expect that issues like the internal situation in Lebanon and the AirBus corruption case, in which former Syrian prime minister Mahmoud Zu’bi was involved along with other senior officials, will be tackled during Shara’s talks with French officials – Albawaba.com
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