WASHINGTON - Syrian Ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustafa, walked out of an MSNBC studio in Washington Friday after Israel Ambassador Danny Ayalon suggested the two appear together on a news broadcast. “The man ran away,” producers of the interview program informed, chuckling.
Mustafa may have been concerned that he would lose his position, considering an incident Wednesday when Lebanese Ambassador to Washington, Farid Abboud, was recalled to Lebanon after expressing support for Hizbullah during an interview with CNN, contrary to the Lebanese government’s official position.
Ayalon and his Syrian counterpart have been running from one TV studio to the next in recent days, waging “public relations battles.” The two have appeared in no less than 12 consecutive TV interviews over the past few days. With that, Mustafa has made sure not to sit next to the Israeli diplomat in the studios, nor even in the makeup rooms.
Ayalon said that “In the past, we used to sit next to each other in the makeup room and chat. Mustafa is a professor, a member of the scientific academy in Damascus, an educated and well mannered man, a personal friend and appointment of President Basher Assad. We used to shake hands and talk. This time he is surrounded by people from the Syrian embassy and runs away from me like from fire,” he said.
The Israeli ambassador, who appeared in a live interview on NBC, asked the interviewer why he and the Syrian ambassador were being filmed in two separate studios. “Ask him if he will sit in the same studio as me,” Ayalon added. The interviewer passed the balled into Mustafa’s court on live TV, and he mumbled embarrassedly that innocent people were being killed in Lebanon.
During the commercial break, the interviewer asked Ayalon if he would appear in the same studio as his Syrian counterpart and he agreed. However, shortly afterwards, the show’s producers informed him that the Syrian ambassador, when he was asked to come into the common studio, responded, “No, no, no,” and hurriedly walked out of the studio.
The two ambassadors were scheduled to appear in their 13th interview on CNN Larry King Live.