Assad visits Turkey amid mediation attempts with Israel

State news agency: Syrian president to discuss "regional issues of common interest."

October 16, 2007 14:42
1 minute read.
Assad visits Turkey amid mediation attempts with Israel

Assad nice 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday began a visit to Turkey, which Assad has said is trying to mediate between his country and Israel. The visit comes weeks after IAF warplanes carried out an air strike in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey. The target has remained unknown, though widespread reports have said it may have been a nascent nuclear facility, a claim Syria has denied. Turkey complained to Israel about the September 6 strike because the aircraft dropped fuel tanks on its territory during the incursion. Assad has said the planes struck an empty warehouse, but both Syria and Israel have been unusually silent over the incident. Last week, Assad said in interviews with two Tunisian newspapers that Turkey was trying to mediate between Syria and Israel. Turkey has close ties to Israel "We have told them [the Turks] that our stance toward peace does not change. All we want is a clear declaration by Israeli officials of their desire for peace and the return of [occupied] land to Syria," Assad said. Syria's state news agency SANA said Assad was leaving on Tuesday for Turkey for talks on "regional issues of common interest." It did not specify when during the day he was traveling. His last visit to Turkey was in January 2004. SANA said Turkey and Syria have a common goal of insuring stability in the region, "which is passing through a very delicate stage and is facing a lot of problems, mainly the situation in Iraq, the Palestinian issue and the Israeli occupation of Arab lands." Turkey and Syria have been increasing economic ties in recent years, with Turkey becoming the biggest foreign investor in Syria, according to SANA.

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