Syria's Assad, Iraqi FM Discuss Bilateral, Arab Relations

Published July 1st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

By Nabil Al Mulhem 



Syrian president-designate Bashar Assad met Saturday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Said Sahhaf where hey discussed, “situations at the Arab and regional levels, and bilateral relations,” according to an official source. 

At the meeting, attended by Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq Shara, Sahhaf offered his condolences to Bashar for the death last month of his father, the late president Hafez al-Assad, whom the visiting minister described as “a great Arab leader.” 

At a press conference held at the Damascus Sheraton, Sahhaf described his meeting with Assad as “important,” adding that he “went into very detail regarding the unjust [UN] embargo on Iraq.” 

Sahhaf arrived in Damascus from Malaysia where he attended the meeting of Organization of the Islamic Conference foreign ministers. 

Commenting on the reported withdrawal of the Iraqi delegation from the final session of the OIC meeting, the minister said they “left the hall,” as the issue they were concerned with “had been already discussed and a bad decision was issued.” 

Sahhaf was referring to the OIC’s refusal to call in the communiqué for lifting the sanctions imposed on his country. Instead, the foreign ministers urged Iraq to comply with UN resolutions. 

According to Sahhaf, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were able to dictate their opinions on the participating states, which receive aid from the two oil-rich monarchies.  

The Iraqi minister was in Damascus on June 25th when he met with his Syrian counterpart before heading to Malaysia. 

Diplomatic relations between the two rival countries broke off in 1980, but ties improved in 1997 when Syria reopened the borders with its neighbor. 

In 1998, Syria and Iraq signed a deal to reopen the pipeline connecting the Kirkuk oil field in the north of Iraq with the Syrian port of Banias on the Mediterranean. The pipeline had been closed down since 1982 – 


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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