Assad in Paris: Israel no partner for peace - PressTV 101209:
"newsupload2010 | December 10, 2010
With the US having apparently given up trying to persuade Israel to extend a partial freeze on settlement expansions in the occupied West Bank, the focus of diplomatic attention has switched briefly to France where Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been on a two-day visit.
CAPTION BASHAR AL ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA
'The peace process has moved along through an American initiative over several months, and involved Palestine and Syria but has resulted in nothing tangible. Should one blame the mediators? One can't do that without reference to the parties concerned. Arab sides have been willing to make peace, but on the Israeli side this is non-existent.'
And with Washington seemingly in a political cul-de-sac, Assad's timing couldn't have been better, looking to France for better understanding of the Syrian position.
CAPTION NICOLAS DOT POUILLARD, BEIRUT UNIVERSITY (IN ENGLISH) 'He wants France to understand a simple fact that today Syria has a clear and strategic alliance with Iran on the one side, Hezbollah and Hamas on the other side and of course, and it's new, Turkey.'
The visit comes as tension is rising in Lebanon on anticipation that the US-backed special tribunal for which investigates the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier may indict members of Hezbollah.
Following the assassination former French president Jacques Chirac cut diplomatic ties with Damascus after some western countries accused Syria of having a role in the killing, a charge the country has strongly rejected.
But under Sarcozy who visited Damascus in 2008 and 2009 bilateral relations have improved.
Analysts also think that France's strong historical ties with Syria and its position within the EU makes France arguably the Syria's most effective European partner
And away from the intractable wider politics of Israel and the Middle East, officials on both sides have been keen to emphasize growing bi-lateral economic and cultural ties.
PTC '...pointing to increased cooperation in the energy, agriculture, transport and tourism sectors. They added that the two Presidents have now met five times in the space of two years underscoring the strength of their personal relationship
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