Syrian State Planning Minister Issam Zaim stressed the importance of relations between Syria and the European Union (EU) Sunday, April 22, on the eve of a negotiating session on an association accord.
"The partnership with the European Union is a strategic choice decided by Syria with a view to concluding a balanced accord," Zaim was quoted by the SANA news agency as saying.
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.
"We want these negotiations to succeed and at the same time we are conscious of the extent of the challenges we must face in modernizing the economy," he added.
Syrian Information Minister Adnan Umran described "a resurgence of Europe's role towards a just and global peace based on UN resolutions" in the Israeli-Arab conflict as "necessary."
Umran called for "the development of Syrian-European relations" when he met in Damascus with French deputy Jacques Baumel, one of France's representatives at the parliamentary assembly of the West European Union (WEU).
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)