Syrian, Egyptian joint press conference in Damascus
Regional-Syria, Politics, 1/9/1999
Following the meeting between Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa and his Egyptian counterpart Amr Moussa briefed the media in a press conference held in Damascus on Friday about the two presidents' meeting, the issues discussed by the two presidents as well as the results of their discussions.
Al-Sahraa said the two presidents discussed the Arab situation, especially the Iraqi crisis and means of adopting a unified Arab position on January 24, when the Arab foreign ministers will meet in Cairo.
"The Egyptian foreign minister and I briefed the two Presidents on the results of al-Ghardaqa meeting and the two Presidents expressed their satisfaction with these results," al-Sharaa said.
He expressed his desire to reach a unified position in the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers due to be held in Cairo on January 24.
In reply to a question about the disputes between some of the Arab leaders and the Iraqi leadership and if the Saddam regime will be toppled, al-Sharaa said "As Arab countries, we are concerned with setting the Arab situation right, revitalizing Arab solidarity, rejecting any aggression against any Arab country and deterring any aggression carried out by an Arab country against any other Arab country. We feel now that there is a real suffering under which Arab people undergo. Regardless of any other thing, all Arab countries and peoples are concerned with this suffering, therefore we must work and do our utmost to lift this suffering imposed on the Iraqi people."
Replying to a question on whether Egyptian mediation played a significant role in improving Syrian - Turkish relations and what Egypt proposed during President Mubarak's current visit as regard to this issue, Moussa said that the file was not opened in this meeting because it is a matter between Syria and Turkey. "Therefore, there is no crisis nor a problem. What is under negotiation now is the issue of Iraq and the general Arab situation, including the peace process," Moussa said. He stressed "What we are careful for is the Iraqi people's interests, Iraq's higher interests that is to maintain Iraq's territorial integrity and the unity of its people."
About convening an Arab summit, the Egyptian foreign minister said that this proposal is under discussion by the Arab foreign ministers. He commented on that saying "President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen's invitation was extended to convene a summit and then it was agreed to hold a meeting at the level of foreign ministers. Egypt has no objection to the summit at any time it is approved by Arab leaders. It is natural for the Arabs to make consultations on issues of interest, especially when matters are connected with with great crisis relating to states and peoples. But in the current crisis Arab situation is too weak and not sound. There are obstacles known to everybody. Egypt approves convening the summit when all approve, and for us, it was better to convene the summit as early as possible, but due to current circumstances and the weak Arab situation, the summit may better convened on January 24."
For his part the Syrian minister said: "We hope that the forthcoming summit may not worsen the Arab situation. There are possibilities for different directions, and we must be vigilant and careful. We have to choose the positive direction which heals the Arab rift, reactivate solidarity and bring us close together."
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