Syria promises to help bring peace


Richard Moore

      Washington has also refused to involve either Syria or Iran
      in talks on ending the Israeli offensive in Lebanon

As usual, Washington makes it clear that peace is the last thing they want, by 
refusing to involve those who need to be involved.


Original source URL:

Syria to help end Lebanon conflict

Thu, 03 Aug 2006

Syria has promised to use all of its influence on Hezbollah in a bid to bring an
end to the fighting in neighbouring Lebanon, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel 
Angel Moratinos said on Thursday.

"The Syrian authorities are going to exercise all their influence over Hezbollah
and over the various actors" in the conflict, Moratinos said after meeting with 
President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials.

However, he told reporters, Syrian leaders want a "change in the circumstances 
and the political-military context in which Lebanon lives."

The conflict was sparked on July 12 when Israel retaliated massively after the 
Shiite movement's guerrillas carried out a deadly raid on an Israeli border post
and seized two soldiers.

Syria and Iran are accused by the West of financing and arming Hezbollah, but 
Damascus claims it provides the group only with moral support.

Moratinos, a former EU Middle East envoy who had travelled to Beirut and 
Damascus to press efforts by Brussels to end the fighting, said his visit to 
Syria had achieved its objectives.

He had asked Syria "to be constructive in this very delicate situation we are 
facing, and I received a positive answer from the Syrian authorities.

"Syria wants to be part of the solution. Syria doesn't want to be part of the 

In particular, he said he and the Syrians had agreed a common position on a 
French proposal calling for an immediate ceasefire and the subsequent deployment
of an international peacekeeping force.

He did not elaborate.

After talks on Wednesday night with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Muallem, 
Moratinos said "we have to succeed in an immediate ceasefire."

Hezbollah and Israel to fall in line

Speaking in the Lebanese capital earlier, he urged Hezbollah and Israel to fall 
into line if the UN Security Council calls for a ceasefire.

"It is important that Hezbollah and Israel accept the ceasefire as soon as the 
Security Council makes its decision," he said.

Diplomats said on Wednesday progress was being made toward agreeing on the text 
of a draft resolution that could be put before the council early next week.

After a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, Moratinos said Spain 
supported his efforts to end the crisis.

Besides an immediate ceasefire, Siniora's plan includes barring any group except
the Lebanese army from carrying arms.

This was the first visit to the Syrian capital by a senior Western official 
since Moratinos last visited in March.

His talks with Muallem then drew strong criticism from Washington, which has 
been seeking to isolate Damascus amid accusations that senior officials had a 
hand in the February 2005 assassination of five-time former Lebanese premier 
Rafiq Hariri. Syria strongly denies those charges.

Washington has also refused to involve either Syria or Iran in talks on ending 
the Israeli offensive in Lebanon


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