Khaddam emphatic on Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon
Syria-Lebanon-France, Politics, 4/6/1998
French President Jacques Chirac on Sunday received Syrian Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam and Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa. Khaddam conveyed a communique to President Chirac from President al-Assad on bilateral ties, the situation in the Middle East and issues of mutual concern.
In a statement to journalists following the two-hour meeting, Khaddam said: "We held talks on a number of issues of common interest including the situation in the Middle East and the Israeli maneuvers concerning UN resolution 425. Our views were identical that 425 (on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon) does not include any conditions," referring to the conditional Israeli offer to withdraw from Lebanon.
Replying to a question on the French position concerning 425 and on whether France has presented ideas or conveyed messages in this regard, Khaddam said, "France has not handed to us any messages dealing with 425, but as I said we discussed the issue from its different sides and I think the stand is clear."
As for Syria's stand Khaddam said: "If Israel really wants peace, the only way is to commit itself to the principles on which the peace process was based, and to signed peace agreements." Khaddam in this respect referred to the peace accords Israel signed with the Palestinians, but did not implement, "If Israel wants peace it would not close the doors before peace here and there through making open maneuvers."
"Our presence (Syrian troops) or non-presence in Lebanon is not associated with an Israeli decision or opinion or policy. The Syrian presence in Lebanon is of concern only to Syria and Lebanon," he said. Khaddam added that he did not feel that French policy is convinced of the seriousness of the Israeli initiative because the conditional initiative voids resolution 425 of its content.
He said the May 17, 1983 Israeli-Lebanese accord was an agreement, but its content fettered Lebanon, violated its sovereignty and permitted Israel to have full hegemony on Lebanon, "therefore, I do not think that there is anyone in the international community who will be deceived by such an Israeli maneuver," Khaddam said.
He described Syrian-French relations as very good, stressing that they are in a state of rapid and continuous development. On the possibility of convening a mini-Arab summit, Khaddam said that Syria is ready to take part in any objective Arab summit, adding this issue on convening a mini Arab summit "has not been discussed yet."
Khaddam said, "The circumstances for holding an Arab summit are suitable ,yet preparing for the summit and making the Arab views identical on a number of issues is more important."
Answering a question on the recent statements made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he said the Israeli proposal on implementing 425 deserves discussion, the Syrian vice-president said: "It seems that Annan was not directly briefed on the Israeli decision, because the decision endorsed by the Israeli government on 425 included conditions which are not stated in the resolution 425, namely the lackey Lahd's militia and the security arrangements," Khaddam said.
Khaddam said he wondered what the security arrangements mean for Israel. He added peace according to Netanyahu means security for Israel. Netanyahu, Khaddam added, wants security arrangements that ensure for him peace with Lebanon, "But does '425' include such things? Of course not."
Khaddam concluded by saying : "I think if Annan was briefed directly on the Israeli government's decision, he would have another stand and another opinion."
Later in the day, Khaddam and al-Sharaa returned to Damascus.
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