First Published: 2003-10-20

 
Spanish king meets Syrian leader in Damascus
 

King Juan Carlos I holds talks with Assad on first day of his visit to Syria at time of tense US-Syrian relations.

 

Middle East Online

Spain's royal couple on their first state visit to Syria

DAMASCUS - Spanish King Juan Carlos I marked the first day of his state visit to Syria Monday by holding talks with President Bashar al-Assad, under increasing US and Israeli pressure over alleged terror links.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara and his Spanish counterpart Ana Palacio also took part in the meeting.

Madrid condemned Israel's raid on a suspected militant Palestinian training camp near Damascus on October 5 - the first such attack in 30 years and one which Washington regarded as self-defence.

At the time, Palacio said "nobody can agree with the Israeli bombardment of Syrian territory," following a suicide bombing in Haifa, northern Israel, that killed 21 people apart from the Palestinian bomber.

The king's visit, accompanied by his wife Queen Sofia, comes at a time when US-Syrian relations are in the doldrums.

Last week the US House of Representatives voted a bill allowing the White House to slap economic and diplomatic sanctions against Damascus on charges of alleged terror links and its readiness to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The English-lanaguge government daily, Syria Times, hailed the royal visit as "an important event" that will "rectify the holes in the relations between the Arabs and the West" and "play a significant role in the dialogue between Islam and Christianity".

Talks will redress the "many misunderstanding in the West about Syria's attitudes towards Iraq and Palestinian resistance," the paper added.

Spanish diplomats say the trip is intended to foster "intensified political dialogue" between Damascus, Madrid and the European Union.

For the past six years, Syria has been negotiating a partnership accord with Brussels due to be signed at the end of 2003, after Assad ordered discussions to be stepped up a gear.

Two bilateral agreements were signed Monday in the presence of the Spanish royals and Syria's first couple on promoting investment as well as boosting cooperation in tourism.

 

Three senior Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades commanders killed in Gaza

Obama demands world action against jihadist ‘cancer’

Kuwait nabs suspected Al-Nusra Front financier

German minister accuses Qatar of financing IS

British jihadists on forefront on IS propaganda

Hamas armed wing declares end to truce talks in Cairo

Tribal clashes kill dozens of people in troubled Darfur

Dubai real estate giant to repay debt four years ahead

Egypt hopes power cuts could ease next week

Jihadist beheading of US journalist sparks worldwide revulsion

Iran provides ‘advice’ to Kurds fighting IS jihadists in Iraq

Power cuts and petrol shortages: Life grows increasingly difficult in Libya

Suspected attack by Kurdish rebels kills one Turkish soldier

UN launches huge aid operation in northern Iraq

Israel pounds Gaza as mourners cry ‘revenge’

Outgoing first lady breaks silence on ‘falsehoods’ against Turkey President

Ex CIA boss: journalist's killing 'first IS terrorist attack against US

Scores of armed Yemen rebels boost positions in capital

Sinai jihadists punish supporters of Egypt army with decapitation

Germany ready to support Iraq Kurds in battle against ‘barbaric’ IS

Iran’s 'reformist' science minister sacked

Turkey assures Ocalan Kurdish peace process will press ahead

Hollande: international situation ‘most serious’ since 2001

Israeli minister: ‘Deif deserves to die’

US hits back at criticism of Ferguson racial unrest

Jihadists to US: stop air strikes or we will behead second reporter

Temporary Gaza ceasefire goes up in smoke

Islamic State in Syria: Not few brainwashed people but whole army

Egypt to US: Show us how you deal with unrest in Ferguson

Turkey seeks to revive peace talks with Iraq Kurdish rebels

Tit-for-tat attacks break Gaza ceasefire

Huthi rebels cook up ‘armed coup’ in Yemen capital

Flood of weapons in South Sudan: Who’s not to blame?

After morale boosting victory, Iraq forces intensify attacks on IS

Multi-national Arab Bank on trial for supporting terror

Violence-hit Libya gradually boosting oil output

Abbas takes Israel’s report of Hamas coup plot seriously

Saudi Grand Mufti blasts Islamic State as 'enemy No 1' of Islam

Iraqi kurd fighters cannot remember any wars quite like one against IS

Turkey detains more police officers in new eavesdropping probe raid

Lebanon's Hezbollah kills top jihadist in Syria

UN to provide massive aid for 500,000 Iraqis

Iraqi troops launch major operation to retake Tikrit

Abbas to hold talks with emir of Qatar

Kurdish protester shot dead in Turkey clashes