Gorbachev: Assad is Irreplaceable

Published June 11th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The late Syrian President Hafez Assad will be "difficult to replace", former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev said Sunday. 

"Assad's authority was immense" both in the Middle East and in international politics, and his death constitutes "a great loss," Gorbachev said in an interview with Moscow's Echo Radio. 

"What was done by Assad will allow his successor, that is to say his son, to move forward," he said in reference to the Middle East peace process. 

"The peace process has taken on a realistic form in as much as Syria has adopted a constructive attitude," Gorbachev said, adding that progress towards a peace in which the whole world had interest was now irreversible. 

Assad died in Damascus on Saturday aged 69, after ruling Syria with an iron hand for 30 years. 

Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam took over Sunday as caretaker president and appointed Assad's son Bashar as commander in chief of the armed forces – (AFP)

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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