Report: Syria's policies won't change ahead of Solana visit

Government-owned newspaper demands other governments alter their policies, not Damascus.

Solana close 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Solana close 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Syria will not change its policies as demanded by some Western countries, a Syrian newspaper said Tuesday, hours ahead of a planned visit by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Solana, the most senior EU official to visit Syria in two years, is expected to arrive in Damascus Tuesday night as part of a three-nation tour that has also taken him to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia to discuss the Lebanese political crisis. Solana said Monday in Lebanon that he hoped his upcoming Damascus visit would help spur positive relations between European countries and Syria. But he also added that Syria would have to change its behavior. "In order to resume the relationship we have to have a frank and sincere discussion about things that can change... and we have to see how the behavior of our friends in Syria may change," Solana said. An editorial Tuesday in the Syrian government-owned newspaper, Al-Thawra, demanded that other governments alter their policies, not Damascus. "Syria did not change its policies simply because they proved to be correct and do not need to be changed. The others should make the required change because they were wrong," an editorial in the government-owned Al-Thawra newspaper said. The West, and particularly the United States, has shunned Syria for its policies in the Middle East, particularly its involvement in Lebanese affairs, its support of militant Palestinian groups and alleged role in fueling the insurgency in Iraq, all charges that Syria denies. Western officials stopped visiting Damascus following the February 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Some Lebanese parties blamed Syria for his death - accusations Damascus denies. Solana, who is on a mission to try and resolve the Lebanese crisis, will discuss what Syria can do to help find a settlement for Lebanon. Lebanon's US-backed government also accuses Syria of supporting the Hezbollah-led opposition that is seeking to topple it.