Muallem on Syria's relations with Iraq and regional issues
Syria-Regional, Politics, 7/14/2005
Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri was a big shock to Syria, and that Syria was a great loser from this crime in Lebanon.
"I think that the assassination of Hariri only served Israel and the international hegemony which has been imposed on Lebanon," Muallem said in an interview published in al-Thawara daily newspaper and the Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA) on Wednesday.
He added that the Syrian-Lebanese tracks cannot be divided as their interests are the same.
On the UN Security Council resolution 1559, Muallem said the main aim of this move is to disarm the Lebanese resistance before reaching a just and comprehensive peace in the region. It also aims at singeling Lebanon out in a partial settlement with Israel as what happened in 17 May 1985 agreement, but the absolute majority of the Lebanese reject that.
On the relations with France, the Deputy Foreign Minister said in the past the French relations with Syria were good. "France took a distinguished stance...but recently it has sided with the U.S. against Syria. This stance has its reasons...and I think that one of these reasons is that some European countries attempted to make-up for the problems in their relations with Washington after Iraq war as they stood against this war."
Replying to a question on the accusations against Syria, Muallem said "Syria will never abandon its rights...we are committed to the UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and subsequently Syria doesn't sell or put its land to rent....we want peace and the restoration of the all the occupied lands till the June 4th 1967 borders."
"If Israel has a political serious decision and willingness to make peace, then we are ready to go back to the talks without conditions...but up till now, the Israeli response to the peace is negative...this means that there is no decision to make peace in the U.S.-backed agenda," Muallem said.
On the U.S. pressures on Syria, the Deputy Foreign Minister said the present American administration hasn't made the Middle East peace process one of its priorities since its first and second and third priority is Iraq.
"The U.S. administration has no strategy for peace in the Middle East...to end the Arab-Israeli conflict...it didn't also understand the reality of linkage between the two main issues which it faces: security and stability in Iraq and in Palestine...so I think that the American agenda which they seek to bring about in the region doesn't only target Syria but also all Arab countries through different slogans: once by the Greater Middle East, another by democracy or by talk about reforms," he added.
On Iraq, Muallem said Syria has interest in stability and security in that country to prevent the spread of disorder to neighboring countries. "We had exerted all possible efforts to control the borders...we sent a diplomatic and security delegation to Baghdad to make sure of the sources of concern at the Iraqi side...I didn't feel that the delegation has returned back carrying accusations against the Syrian government, but did have an Iraqi appeal to exert more efforts to control the borders and a proposal for a Syrian-Iraqi security cooperation." "We say frankly that we invited Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr to come to Syria heading a security delegation for coordination. Security in Iraq is part of security in Syria, and when security is stable in Iraq then the Iraqi government will be in a stronger position to demand a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops," he added.
On the relations with the European Union, Muallem said "through my contacts with the Europeans ( I realize that ) they stress that after the signing in initials of the association agreement, and for technical reasons concerning the expansion of the EU, they were forced to translate this agreement in 20 languages...for translation reasons this agreement hasn't been signed in its present form...Now we hope that maybe before this fall or winter it will be signed." He added that "through our bilateral contacts we feel solidarity from many European countries with Syria, whereas some other European countries have, for certain reasons, their own stance on Syria because of the situation in Lebanon or Iraq."
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