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.

 

President of Iraq Kurdistan vows to avenge Yazidi minority

US agrees to ‘expedite’ arms sales to Gulf countries

Israel ex-security chiefs to Netanyahu: Accept Iran deal as ‘fait accompli’

Egypt leader amends electoral law

Saudi king cuts short French Riviera holiday

US may take 'additional steps' to defend allied fighters in Syria

Turkey will do 'whatever necessary' in fight against militants

PKK claims deadly suicide bombing against troops in eastern Turkey

Sudan rebels offered guarantees to attend talks

Pro-Hadi forces target rebel-held base as coalition forces enter Aden

Israel's president threatened over 'Jewish Terrorism' comments

French beach returns to public after departure of Saudi King

Syria army plane crashes in rebel-held town of Ariha

Iran bans newspaper owned by nuclear deal critic

More Yemen refugees look for shelter in Djibouti

Erdogan: Putin may give up on Assad

Yemen rebel leader says political settlement still possible

Kerry in Qatar for talks on Iran nuclear deal

UAE prosecutor refers 41 people to trial on terrorism charges

Kerry to Middle East allies: Iran deal will make region safer

Egypt court again postpones verdict in retrial of Jazeera reporters

Al-Nusra Front releases video to show ‘capture’ of US-trained rebels

Israel faces mounting pressure after baby killing in arson attack

'PKK suicide attack' kills two soldiers in eastern Turkey

Egypt court postpones verdict on brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri

Immigration surpasses economy as major concern in Europe

Plane crash kills family members of Bin Laden

Iraq protesters vent anger over poor services

ISIS flexes muscles in eastern Libya

Syria army pushes back rebels near Latakia province

Arbil urges PKK to move out of Iraq Kurdistan

Yemen government returns to Aden with eyes set on Sanaa

Erdogan calls for early elections if no coalition

Palestinian baby killed in arson attack by Jewish settlers

Kurds in Diyarbakir fear return to war

State of emergency in Tunisia extended

Jerusalem Gay Pride attack suspect lashes out in court

'Kurdish Obama' faces his biggest test

Yemen blockade 'killing' as many civilians as war

EU urges Israel to show 'zero tolerance for settler violence'

Cash-strapped Tunisia's Syphax airline grounds flights

Pentagon denies US-trained rebels captured in Syria

Morocco king calls for development of remote regions

Host of US celebrities endorses Iran nuclear deal

PKK braces for fight with Turkey in Iraq mountain bastions