'Finding solutions.' Assad
Photo: Reuters
Assad urges France, EU to help lift Gaza blockade
Syrian leader tells chief diplomatic advisor to President Sarkozy that Israeli siege 'worsens humanitarian situation' in Hamas-controlled territory; Israel says keeping crossings closed due to Qassam fire

Syrian President Bashar Assad held talks with two French envoys on Sunday and urged Paris and the European Union, currently headed by France, to work to lift the Israeli blockade of Gaza.


Claude Gueant, secretary-general of the French presidency, and Jean-David Levitte, chief diplomatic advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy, arrived in Damascus earlier in the day and discussed "Franco-Syrian cooperation and the situation in the Middle East," said the official Syrian news agency SANA.


Assad praised the "efforts made by France with countries in the region, aimed at finding solutions to different problems."


He urged Paris and the European Union to "work to lift the blockade imposed on the Palestinian people in Gaza which worsens the humanitarian situation" in the Hamas-controlled territory.


Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has instructed thhe security establishment to keep the Gaza goods crossings closed on Monday as well, in light of the ongoing rocket fire emanating from the Strip.


Barak made the decision following a nightly security assessment.


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