Solana shaking hands with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem
Photo: AFP

EU backs Syria's aim to regain Golan Heights - Solana

EU foreign policy chief says EU wants to help Syria regain territory captured by Israel in 1967, urges Syria to help ease tension in Lebanon, Iraq

The European Union supports Syria's goal of regaining the occupied Golan Heights from Israel, the EU foreign policy chief said after meeting President Bashar Assad on Wednesday.


"We would like to work as much as possible to see your country Syria recuperate the territory taken in 1967," Javier Solana told a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.


Syria has made it clear that its cooperation to help end violence in Iraq was tied to Western, especially US, backing for its peaceful campaign to regain the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied during the Middle East war four decades ago.


Israel annexed the territory in 1981.


Solana urged Syria to do more to help ease tensions in Lebanon and Iraq during the visit that ended a two-year freeze on high-level EU contacts with Damascus.


Before his meeting with Assad,Solana called on senior Syrian officials to crack down on alleged smuggling of arms across the border into Lebanon and contribute to stabilizing Iraq, EU diplomats said.


"The message of Solana is that this can be the beginning. We have to see concrete steps," one diplomat said.


Solana's tour of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria comes after France dropped its objections to EU contacts with Damascus, which a UN inquiry has implicated in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik al-Hariri.


The European Union wants Syria to back the creation of a tribunal to try suspects in the killing.


Syria -- which denies involvement in the assassination -- is seen as key to unlocking the four-month political deadlock between the anti-Syrian majority in Lebanon and rival factions including its Hizbullah allies.


Asked in Beirut on Monday about suspicions that arms are coming across into Lebanon from Syria, Solana said he could not see how they could come in any other way, including by the coastal route currently patrolled by European ships.


"Where are the weapons coming from? I can't say. But I can say where it is very difficult for them to come from," he said.


EU officials play down expectations for a major breakthrough from the Damascus trip and do not want to signal that Syria has been let off the hook over what its adversaries regard as failure to support efforts to bring Hariri's killers to justice.


The UN commission investigating the Hariri case praised Syrian cooperation with the inquiry as "timely and efficient" in its latest report to the Security Council


Syrian officials say they have been also cooperating on Iraq, pointing out that Syria was at the same table as US representatives at this weekend's Baghdad conference aimed at finding ways out of the chaos.


פרסום ראשון: 03.14.07, 14:53
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