Assad to Arab states: Let's talk

Syrian leader trying to mend rifts since calling ME leaders "half men" in August.

October 6, 2006 22:54

Syrian President Bashar Assad called on Egypt and Saudi Arabia to return to holding summits with Damascus, according to an interview published Friday in a Kuwaiti newspaper. Assad said in an interview in the daily Al-Anba that the three Arab countries "consult less now" and should work together toward helping the hundreds of millions of Arabs in region. "We hope that we go back soon to the idea of holding Syrian-Egyptian-Saudi summits like we used to do in the 1990s," Assad said. Assad has been making attempts to align Syria with other Middle East heavyweights and play a stronger role in the region's politics. He also has been trying to mend rifts with Egypt and Saudi Arabia since describing Mideast leaders as "half men" during a televised speech in August. But Assad later claimed that he did not specifically mean the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who had criticized Syrian-backed Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers July 12 that sparked more than month of Israeli assaults on Lebanon.

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