According to a report by the Syria's official news agency SANA, Assad has received a letter from his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy delivered by Jean-Claude Cousseran. The letter stressed the need to develop bilateral relations between Paris and Damascus and continue with consultations.
Assad and Cousseran (Photo: AFP)
During their meeting, Assad presented Cousseran with Syria's peace vision and stressed that it is constantly working to achieve just and comprehensive peace based on international resolutions.
The Syrian president further stressed the importance of cooperation with Turkey on the matter, "in order to move forward based on achievements of the indirect talks with Israel."
Assad also expressed his appreciation for Sarkozy's peace efforts.
Discussing bilateral relations, the French envoy expressed his country's wish to boost cooperation with Syria due to its central role in the region's peace process. He stressed that France is determined to support the peace process.
Cousseran's appointment as the person in charge of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria last August has been perceived as France's attempt to replace Turkey as the mediator between Jerusalem and Damascus. It is estimated that his current visit in Damascus is aimed at studying Syria's percieved options in terms of peace in order to pressure Israel into negotiations.
France is expected to rely on the Turkish mediator who held the last round of talks at the current stage, but it is possible that Paris will be the sole intermediary in the future.
Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported that should the efforts prove successful, the talks would be sponsored by the United States. Currently, however the US is primarily focused on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leaving room for France to pursue the Syrian channel.
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