Al-Shara conveys a message from al-Assad to Lahoud
Syria-Lebanon, Politics, 4/25/2000
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud on Monday in Beirut at Baabda palace received Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara. The meeting was attended by Lebanese Prime Minister Salim al-Hoss and the chairman of the Syrian security intelligence for the Syrian forces in Lebanon, Lt. Gen. Ghazi Kanaan.
Following the meeting, al-Shara told journalists at Baabda palace that the meeting with President Lahoud and Premier al-Hoss was "good, positive and cordial." He added that he had conveyed a message from Syrian President Hafez al-Assad to President Lahoud concerning the latest developments in the Middle East.
Al-Shara indicated that he had also conveyed the congratulations of the Syrian leadership to the Lebanese people on the occasion of Easter.
Then replying to a question on his visit to Paris due late today and whether this visit has any connection to the development of the peace process, al-Shara said contacts and consultations between Syria and France are incessant, and this visit comes within the framework of the Syrian -French relations.
He said that during his visit latest political developments in the region will be discussed, especially the Middle East peace process and the Israeli refusal of achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the area.
The Syrian foreign minister stressed that this main point should be briefed on not only by France and the French government but also all the world, asserting that Syria and Lebanon propose clearly and carefully stability and attaining a just and comprehensive peace in the region through implementing the UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 425 and the land-for-peace formula on the basis of the Madrid terms of reference, which are the basis of the American initiative.
Al-Shara continued, "We question if the US has deserted this initiative.
"We do not believe that Washington is going to give up its Madrid terms of reference. This will mean a lot to every citizen in this region, because that will mean the US gives up its responsibilities if it gives up the initiative, Madrid terms of reference and the land-for-peace formula."
Al-Shara added, "If there was a proposal for a unilateral solution, it is responsibility. The Lebanese government and the rule in Lebanon deal with it as Syria and the Syrian leadership do. The Syrian and Lebanese interests are identical. And there is no contradiction in basic interests in Syria and Lebanon. He who believes that there is any contradiction between Syrian and Lebanese interests is mistaken.
"This issue exceeds that of the unity of the two tracks. The issue is very important. It concerns every Lebanese and Syrian and every Arab citizen. Either the region will go to peace and we are all with this just and comprehensive peace or to have the region goes in another direction as Israel wants at least until this moment."
The foreign minister continued: "If Israel wants to pull out unilaterally, withdrawal must be complete and comprehensive including land, the sea and the air as we and almost all Arab states said.
"Withdrawal must be also unconditional and reach behind the internationally- recognized borders. If this kind of withdrawal is achieved, Syria will be certainly very satisfied, because this pullback is an accomplishment for the struggle of the Lebanese people and their national resistance. Hence, and as I said, there are no contradictions in interests but a conformity, and Syria fully support this withdrawal."
He said that, "If it will be incomplete, this means that Israel wants to make the situation further worsened and to keep the region agitated. This is totally unacceptable. We and Lebanon set peace, while Israel sets tension, and it has to choose between peace and tension."
Replying to the statements of French Defense Minister Alain Richard, al-Shara said they constitute a sort of pressure on Syria, adding, "The French government made an explanation about the statements and we accept it.
"We do not seek a confrontation but want a true sign expressing mutual interests and the friendship between France on the one hand and Syria and Lebanon on the other. However, we do not think that the French can virtually get out of the spirit of the friendship we aspire for."
Answering to another question on whether a pullback without an accord is a blow to the peace process and whether there are positive signs of resuming negotiations before the Israeli withdrawal, the Syrian foreign minister stated: "It is Israel's stand which determines tension and confrontation or a just and comprehensive peace. We strongly advocate this peace as repeatedly declared by President Hafez al-Assad. Syria and Lebanon are ready for this peace, but if Israel wants something else under the cover of some superpowers, it will fail as in the 1980s."
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