Syrian president calls on EU countries to define role in Mideast region

10:12, March 17, 2010      

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday said it was necessary for the EU member countries to define their roles in the Middle East and hold with the countries of the region and the powers in the world, the official ANA news agency reported.

His remarks came during the meeting with the visiting High Representative of the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Catherine Ashton.

Ashton arrived in Damascus Monday night within a regional tour which includes Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Palestinian territories.

Ashton expressed the EU's willingness to push forward the partnership process between Syria and the EU, recognizing the role of Syria in the peace process and stability in the region.

Both sides agreed that experts from both sides should meet to discuss issues and reservations which hinder signing the partnership agreement between the EU and Syria, the report said.

The situation in the Middle East and peace process were reviewed during the meeting, as Ashton confirmed the EU's intention to reinforce efforts and to work with all parties in the region in order to make progress in the peace process.

Later on Tuesday, Ashton held talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

She told the reporters in the joint press conference with Moallem that "Resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is essential for the solution of other problems," affirming that her visit is aimed to offer support to re-engagement initially the proximity talks of moving to full talks.

"EU is committed to the peace and security of the region as it committed to the peace and security of Europe," Ashton said, "this is the first visit for me to the region and my purpose is to explore how EU can use economical and political weight to support the peace process."

Moallem called on the EU and the United States to put pressure on Israel on its settlement building and extension policy, referring to both sides have agreed that Israel's settlement building policy consists a real obstacle for the peace process.

The EU's top diplomat on Monday started a tour of the Middle East, it is her first visit to the region since assuming her post.

Source: Xinhua
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