Syrian president: peace in Mideast needs seriousness by all sides

By Xinhua,

Damascus : Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that achieving peace in the Middle East needs seriousness by all sides and serious international sponsorship.

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Assad made the remarks while meeting with visiting European Parliament (EP) President Hans-Gert Poettering during which the two sides discussed the European-Mediterranean relations, according to the official SANA news agency.

The importance of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s initiative to improve European ties with the Mediterranean countries and the necessity of efforts by all these countries to establish peace and security in the Middle East were focused in the talks.

Assad expressed the hope that Europe should play a most important role in the Middle East and understand the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the right of the Arabs in their lands and countries, as well as the rights of the refugees to return home.

He also highlighted the sufferings of the peoples in the region because of the occupation, wars and aggression.

For his part, Poettering told Assad during their meeting that Syria’s policy under his leadership proved to be correct and that the whole world now understand that no peace in the region could be established without Syria, SANA said.

In a statement to reporters afterwards, Poettering said it is very important to make such a dialogue in which Syria and the EP, the executive arm of the European Union (EU), stressed keenness on establishing peace in the region.

He also voiced the hope that a partnership agreement with Syria could be signed as soon as possible.

The partnership pact between Syria and the EU was initiated in 2004, but a final signature was postponed after the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri in February 2005, which Damascus was allegedly involved in. But Syria denied any role.

Poettering arrived here on Saturday on a four-day official visit to Syria. On Sunday, he also met other senior Syria officials, including Vice President Farouk al-Shara, Speaker of the People’s Assembly Mahmoud al-Abrash and Foreign Minister Walidal-Muallem.