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.

 

Syrian migrant blows self up near German music festival

Arab summit in Mauritania cut to single day

12 killed in suicide bomb attack north of Baghdad

Turkey cracks down on journalists after coup

Iran destroys 100,000 ‘morally damaging’ satellite dishes

ISIS claims second German attack in a week

France calls for immediate humanitarian truce in Aleppo

Dozens dead in 5 days of Yemen fighting

Israel advances plans for 770 settlement homes

Libya conflict keeps 279,000 children out of school

After week of attacks, Germany warns of backlash against refugees

Iraqi charged with having 'trace' explosives in Poland

UN Syria envoy, US, Russian officials to hold talks Tuesday

Kuwait top court acquits IOC powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad

Air strikes, rebel fire kill 19 in Aleppo

Egypt policeman killed in Sinai attack claimed by IS

ISIS suicide bomber kills at least 15 in northern Baghdad

Turkey readies first cross-party rally to condemn coup

Libya loyalists seize ISIS bomb factory in Sirte

Tunisia dissident, Mohsen Marzouk, opens new party congress

Air raids jeopardise much-needed medical care in Aleppo

Saudi delegation in Israel to promote stalled peace initiative

At least 61 people dead as ISIS claims twin blasts in Kabul

Iraq PM seeks to speed up death penalty implementation

Munich shooting had 'obvious link' to Breivik, not ISIS

EgyptAir flight broke up in midair after fire, evidence suggests

Palestinian village could soon cease to exist

Coalition warplanes strike Qaeda positions in southern Yemen

Turkey extends police powers, shutters over 1,000 private schools

Libya ‘NATO revolutionaries’ urge fight against French troops

Germany probes motives of 'lone' Munich mass killer

Russian warplanes targeted US, British outpost in Syria

Bodies of 14 'executed' people found in Libya's Benghazi

UN to help Turkey bolster tourism sector

France to supply weapons to Iraqi army

Turkey tensions fester in Germany

Israel official on first visit to Chad in 40 years

EU condemns 'unacceptable' Turkey purges

Iran stops 'terrorist infiltration' from Turkey

Moscow restarts air travel to Turkey

Assad says Erdogan is 'implementing his own extremist agenda'

Egypt's Sisi says 'serious efforts' made in Palestine peace process

43 civilians dead as regime bombards rebel-held areas in Syria

UN pleads for weekly 48-hour truce in Syria's Aleppo

Kuwait upholds death for Iran spy cell 'mastermind'