Assad to start Latin American tour

Syrian leader seeks to strengthen int'l image, economic ties.

bashar assad 311 (photo credit: AP)
bashar assad 311
(photo credit: AP)
To improve Syria's image on the international stage and strengthen economic ties, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has set out on a landmark tour to Latin America Friday, AFP reported.
Assad will visit the region for the first time on a tour that will begin in Venezuela and continue with visits to Brazil and Argentina, all countries with large Syrian expat communities, as well as Cuba.
RELATED:World leaders line up to meet AssadSyrian economy liberalized, but citizens still live in fear
Syria will also reciprocate previous official visits from the leaders Cuba and Brazil. Cuba's Fidel Castro, in particular, visited Damascus months after Bashar Assad succeeded his deceased father Hafez to become Syria's leader in 2001.
Damascus' international isolation has decreased recently, as Syria received visits from US Senator John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in May.
Syria will also sign transportation, tourism and cultural agreements with Argentina, a senior official at the Argentine embassy in Damascus told AFP.