Syrian Efforts to Counter US, Israeli Pressure (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 01/28/05)
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Statements made by Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad and other Syrian
officials this week seemed aimed at staving off US and Israeli
On Thursday, Assad completed an official four-day visit to Russia.
Ahead of the state visit, international pressure initiated by Israel
and the United States led to the suspension of plans for Syria to
purchase from Russia long-range rockets, capable of striking deep
inside. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received official confirmation
from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the deal will not go
through. White House statements opposing the sale stated that as long
as Syria continues supporting terrorism, it opposes the sale of
weaponry to Damascus.
Syrian President Assad was quoted by a Russian news agency as stating
Israel opposes the sale of Iskander long-range missiles so that
Israel will enjoy the ability to attack without concerns regarding a
In ongoing efforts at generating counter-pressure, Assad and Syrian
Foreign Minister Farouk A-Shara this week made remarks to the press
claiming Damascus´ genuine desire to achieve peace with Israel.
American and Israeli officials, however, rejected the statements,
with US spokesman Richard Boucher saying that Syria must begin
combating terrorism and not just announce its pro-peace policy.
Facing similar pressure over its ongoing military occupation of
neighboring Lebanon, the Syrian foreign minister told CNN on Sunday
that Syrian troops in Lebanon "will not stay for ever, certainly.
There is [the] Taif agreement, which we abide by in its
implementation. The matter might take about two years." A-Shara
further asserted that the total number of Syrian soldiers in Lebanon
is "only 15,000 or 16,000."
"We are in Lebanon to help the Lebanese," the Syrian minister
claimed, "and should the Lebanese no longer want our help us we will
not stay beyond that."
Reacting to A-Shara´s statements, two main figures in the Lebanese
opposition called again for immediate Syrian withdrawal. Former
Lebanese army general Michel Aoun, living in exile in Paris, noted
Monday that nobody asked the Lebanese people if they agreed to two
more years of Syrian occupation, and Druze leader Walid Jumblat
stated on Monday that he rejects "Syrian supremacy over Lebanon."
(IsraelNationalNews © 01/28/05)
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