Assad: No major developments expected in peace process with Israel before US presidential elections

Published June 2nd, 2004 - 02:00 GMT

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Spanish Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Wednesday afternoon held a joint news conference at the end of their meeting in Madrid. 


The Syrian leader hailed Spain's decision to pullout troops from Iraq. "Spain’s latest position has enhanced its stance and credibility in Iraq…it will be appreciated by the Iraqi people and all nations in the region and the world. Now, Spain will be able to play a more positive role regarding the Iraqi issue and the (Middle East) peace process as well," Assad said, according to SANA


On terrorism, the Syrian president conveyed his country has strongly condemned the latest attacks which took place in Madrid. "We believe that Spain’s latest stance (withdrawal of its forces from Iraq) helped protecting Iraqi citizens…and helped protecting Spanish citizens…It also helped partially to restoring stability to the Middle East in the future." 


He said both sides discussed means of boosting cooperation in the filed of security and fighting terrorism, adding that Syria "expressed willingness to offer all help to the Spanish friends in this field."  


Answering a question on the Syrian connections to Hizbullah and the latter’s alleged links with ETA group, Assad said "there is no link between Hizbulah and ETA "neither geographically nor politically or logically." Hizbullah is a Lebanese group that aims at liberating the Lebanese lands from the Israeli occupation, and has no relations with any other movements. It is a part of the Lebanese society with members at the Parliament" 


He added that Syria "has relations with all walks of life in Lebanon and Hizbullah is one of those Lebanese sides or parties."  


Answering a question on the new government in Iraq, Assad said that Syria has always committed itself not to intervene in Iraq’s internal affairs. "Giving foreign legitimacy to any national institution is an intervention in the internal affairs. We have relations with members of the Iraqi Governing Council. They were received in Syria on highest levels. We view them through their work and stances regarding keeping Iraq’s unity and restoration of sovereignty", he said. 


Replying a question by a reporter on the resumption of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, Assad said that Syria "has firm desire in comprehensive peace process, but as for the Israeli side, you all follow daily systematic killings of Palestinian citizens. We see no special indications, particularly when we look at the separation wall which we don’t call in Syria Berlin Wall but Apartheid as it was in South Africa." 


He said that talks with Israel are not expected to resume until the next American elections are held. "The other factor is the American election. We believe there will be no movement towards the peace process (with Israel) before the end of those elections, but this doesn’t mean we have to stop work for peace. We can now prepare for submitting new proposals or initiatives to our European friends." 


"When these international conditions change, or when the conditions inside Israel and all are ready to launch the peace process or the negotiations with different mechanisms then things will be clear. There is a vision, there is a plan, and there could be a timetable regarding this issue," he stated. (

© 2004 Al Bawaba (

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