|06DAMASCUS5403||2006-12-14 11:41:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Damascus|
VZCZCXYZ0013 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHDM #5403/01 3481141 ZNR UUUUU ZZH O 141141Z DEC 06 FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2629 RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6444 RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4234 RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2831 RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7411 RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1454 RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4793 RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1015 RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA// INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7143
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 005403
1. Summary: Syrian papers on Dec. 14 reported that President Asad
met on Dec. 13 with US Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. Talks
focused on the latest developments in Lebanon, Iraq and the
Palestinian territories. President Asad called for non-interference
in Lebanese affairs, since the Lebanese people are capable of
understanding each other and national issues. Asad noted that there
is interest on the Syrian and American sides to activate dialogue
and put in place mechanisms for bilateral cooperation. President
Asad underscored the firmness of Syria's positions, calling on the
international community to exert efforts with the countries of the
region to achieve security and stability. President Asad also
reiterated Syria's call to make the Middle East a WMD-free zone, and
supported the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
All papers reported President Asad's meeting with Senegalese Foreign
Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, who conveyed a message from Senegal's
President Abdoulaye Wade on means of bolstering bilateral relations.
President Asad called on Senegal to play a more effective role in
the region. Gadio confirmed Syria's important role in the region.
Talks during the meeting dealt with activating the role of the
Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Views of the two sides
were identical regarding regional issues, particularly on Iraq.
On Syrian-Russian relations, papers reported VP Shara's meeting with
a Russian media delegation on Dec. 13, during which Shara reiterated
the importance of Russia's role in the regional and international
arenas. Shara emphasized the significance of the upcoming visit by
President Asad to Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir
Putin. Papers also cited a statement to SANA by Vitaly Naumkin,
Chairman of the Russia International Center for Strategic and
Political Studies, depicting Syrian-Russian relations as "good,"
"historical," and high-level.
On Syrian-UK relations, papers reported VP Shara's meeting with
Michael Ancram, British MP and Former Shadow Foreign Secretary, on
Dec. 13. Talks focused on the critical situations in Lebanon, Iraq
and Palestine. In a press conference following the meeting, Ancram
confirmed that Syria can play a very important role in solving every
problem in the region.
Papers also reported that VP Shara held talks on Dec. 13 with former
Iraqi PM Ibrahim Jafari. Both sides expressed satisfaction over
resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In a
statement to journalists, Jafari said talks dealt with developments
in Syrian/Iraqi relations and the political situation in Iraq, as
well the conference for Iraqi reconciliation to be held Dec. 16.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad receives a message from Senegalese President
Abdoulaye Wade concerning means of bolstering bilateral relations.
President Asad reviews the latest developments in Iraq, Lebanon and
the Palestinian territories with Senator Bill Nelson. President
Asad underscores firmness of Syria's positions, calling for
non-interference in Lebanese affairs" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th,
"The Joint Syrian-Egyptian Higher Committee commences deliberations
in Cairo. PM Ottri: Syria and Egypt are cores of joint Arab
action. Egyptian PM Nazeef: Syrian-Egyptian fraternal relations are
special and distinguished" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 12/14)
"VP Shara confers with former Iraqi PM Ibrahim Jafari, confirming
Syria's support of stability in Iraq. Shara meets Michael Ancram,
British MP and Former Shadow Foreign Secretary. Ancram: Syria has
a decisive role in solving problems in the region" (Government-owned
"Hizbollah unveils a document from Lebanese MP Sa'ad al-Hariri
demanding that Hizbollah surrender the resistance's arms in exchange
for stopping the Israeli aggression against Lebanon"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 12/14)
"Americans reach unprecedented pessimism on Iraq. 'Bush's strategy'
is not ready" (Government-owned Tishreen, 12/14)
"The EU demands clarifications from Israel concerning its possession
of nuclear weapons. Washington keeps silent" (Government-owned
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Medals under Feet"
Khalid al-Ashhab, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(12/14): "Now that John Bolton has gone, there is a long list of
candidates to whom the March 14 group leaders in Lebanon will grant
the Cedar Medal. This list include US Ambassador in Beirut Feltman
and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, the first because he manages the
group from inside Lebanon and the latter because he manages it from
"Bolton was managing the group from the international
organization.... The March 14 team's eagerness to stay in power,
naturally, is not weaker than the eagerness of the Bush
administration and its leaders to remain in the White House. But
the difference between the two is that while the Bush team betrayed
the world for the sake of its country's interests - oil and
domination - , the March 14 team betrayed its country for the sake
of the interests of others in it...."
"Repercussions of the Baker-Hamilton Report on US Policy in the
Dr. Sa'id Musallam, a columnist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(12/14): "Israel rushed to reject the positive points in the Iraq
Study Group's Report, particularly the call for the withdrawal of
American troops from Iraq and the call for a comprehensive
settlement in the Middle East and the return of the occupied Golan
to Syria. This shows that Israel does not hesitate to abandon its
allies when the results are not fully in its favor....
"British Prime Minister Tony Blair was designated to discuss the
Middle East file and the calls for dialogue with Iran and Syria and
find a face-saving formula, because President Bush finds it
embarrassing to make concessions and talk to those whom he has
described as rogue or evil people....
"The region awaits the solutions or mechanisms that British Prime
Minister Blair will offer to activate the Baker-Hamilton
recommendations, and the proposals that he will carry from Bush,
especially with regard to the engagement of Syria and Iran....
"The more important question, however, is: What files have the US
Administration and its allies prepared in order to get Syria and
Iran involved in this solution? Do they believe either of the two
countries will offer ready meals on a silver or golden platter, when
the two countries faced, and are still facing, harsh pressure
applied by the foolish US policy?
"There are no free gifts to please Bush.... The American failure
must be exploited in favor of the national plan, whether by Iran,
Iraq, Palestine, or Lebanon...."
"Annan's Speech and Rice's Reaction"
Isam Darin an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(12/14): "In his farewell speech at the UNSC, Kofi Annan
objectively criticized the US policy in a polite diplomatic tone....
"What was the thing that angered Miss Rice? Does a simple word of
truth trouble the American decision-makers? Can Rice or the Bush
administration deny the role of the United States in pushing off
peace and unleashing the monster of terror? Can this administration
deny its role in marginalizing the role of the United Nations in
international issues and in preventing this international
organization from performing its mission of protecting world
security and peace as the UN Charter stipulates? Can the
administration of the neoconservatives ignore the unlimited American
support for and legitimization of Israeli terror and the use of the
veto against every draft resolution condemning Israeli
"The Bush administration should have responded positively to Annan's
message, especially after the successive setbacks that US policy has
suffered domestically and internationally. But instead, Rice turned
to the same offensive style, proving once again that the Bush
administration cannot learn from lessons and experiences."