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bashar assad 311.(Photo by: AP)
'Curb Israel's extremist tendencies'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
05/23/2010
Assad urges Kouchner not to keep silent over ME "seeds of sedition."
Syrian President Bashar Assad met with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Damascus on Sunday in order to discuss relations between the two countries and regional issues - among them tensions between Israel and its neighbors to the North.

"It is also no longer acceptable to keep silent over Israel's violations and its sowing the seeds of sedition in the region … If the West wants security and stability in our region, it must start playing an active role to rein in Israel and curb its extremist and dangerous tendencies on the region's security and stability," the Syrian news agency quoted Assad as saying.

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He reportedly explained to Kouchner that the Middle East had changed and should therefore be approached in new ways, going on to stress that Israel was the destabilizing regional element that was threatening to ignite wars.

Kouchner was quoted as saying that his country wished to be play a more active part in the Middle East peace process and to facilitate dialogue between the parties - in his opinion, the only way to bring the long-standing conflict to a close.


'Diplomacy yields results, confrontation - catastrophe'

The two also discussed the Iranian nuclear crisis, with Assad reportedly praising the uranium enrichment deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil and saying the successful mediation proved diplomacy, rather than "catastrophic confrontations," yields positive results. He urged Western nations to "change their approach" toward Iran and its nuclear program, which Teheran claims is meant to produce energy for civilian use.

During the meeting, Kouchner handed Assad a missive from French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussing bilateral relations between Paris and Damascus and the importance of enhancing them and building more ties. Sarkozy reportedly referred to the relatively warm relations between the two countries as a stabilizing element in the Middle East.

The Damascus meeting was also attended by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, senior Syrian presidential adviser Buthaina Sha'aban and other French and Syrian dignitaries.
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