Syrian - Italian talks stress bilateral cooperation, backing for Middle East peace
Syria-Italy, Politics, 2/23/2000
A round of talks was held on Tuesday evening between Syrian Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Zou'bi and his Italian counterpart, Massimo D'Alema.
The Syrian side to the meeting was attended by the deputy prime ministers for economic affairs and services, the ministers of the interior, economy and foreign trade, state for planning, finance, agriculture, electricity and oil as well as technicians concerned.
On the Italian side it was attended by the foreign minister, the Italian ambassador in Damascus and technicians concerned.
In a welcoming speech al-Zou'bi said the visit of the Italian premier to Damascus is an important chance to enhance the existing relations between the two countries.
He added that Syrian-Italian cooperation is traditional and responds to the will of both the Syrian and Italian peoples.
He continued that Italy is an important trade partner for Syria, and it had a constructive role to play in the region through its positive stances towards developments in the region. This was, however, demonstrated during Italy's presidency of the European Union and in the final statements adopted at the Florence summit which stressed the importance of Israel's complete withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied in 1967.
Al-Zou'bi added that the positive stances taken by Italy were also demonstrated in statements made by Italian officials in expressing deep concern over Israel's escalation against Lebanon and stressing that peace in the Middle East is not attainable without implementing international legitimacy resolutions and the land-for-peace formula.
For his part, the Italian prime minister expressed gratitude over the feelings of friendship and great hospitality accorded to him and his companions, "I was deeply impressed by President al-Assad's reception, The feeling of friendship he showed to us and the time he gave us during our meeting with him."
He continued that his visit aimed at supporting the Middle East peace process to achieve a just and comprehensive peace and that the European Union has to encourage parties concerned to honor what has been agreed upon.
He indicated that his visit to Damascus also aimed at enhancing relations between Syria and Italy. "We are interested in partnership between Syria and the EU," hoping to build a special tie with Syria, he said.
The two sides discussed trade, economic, scientific and cultural cooperation relations between the two countries.
Earlier in the day, the Italian premier visited the martyrs monument at Damascus' Qasyoun Mount and the Italian hospital in Damascus and donated an ambulance to this hospital.
Later in the day, D'Alema left Damascus following a one-day official visit.
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