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|Wednesday, May 09, 2001, updated at 08:16(GMT+8)|
Syria Summons US, French Ambassadors for Criticism of AssadSyrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Tuesday the US and French ambassadors in Damascus after Washington and Paris criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's remarks on Israel.
An official Syrian spokesman said the comments made by Washington and Paris on Assad's speech during Pope John Paul II's visit to Syria were based on misunderstanding.
The spokesman said in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Xinhua, that the address delivered by Assad during the Pope's visit "did not mention Jews by name and was not aimed at instigating against any celestial religion.
Rather, it was aimed at calling on the Israeli authorities to stop their daily bloody exercises against the unarmed Palestinians, he added.
"This unobjective campaign against Syria is aimed at covering up anti-peace policies adopted by the Israeli government," he further noted.
During a meeting with Pope John Paul II here on Saturday, Assad, without mentioning Israel or Jews by name, said that "All of us know that Jesus Christ suffered so much at the hands of those who stood against heavenly and human principles and values, including justice and equity."
Assad also pointed out a Jewish conspiracy to "kill" Muslim Prophet Mohammad.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that Assad's remarks "unfortunately did not conform to "a peace call made by the Pope during his four-day visit to Syria, which started on Saturday.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher also termed Assad's remarks as "disappointing and unacceptable."
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