DAMASCUS, (AFP) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Saturday the absence of peace in the Middle East harms the region’s economic development, following talks with the visiting Indian president.
The absence of peace in our region due to Israel’s policies… raises tensions and undermines economic development and prosperity,” Assad said at a news conference with visiting President Pratibha Patil.
He also expressed the hope that Syria-India relations will aid international efforts to help put “an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.”
Assad reiterated that key ally Iran “and all (other) countries have a right to nuclear energy for peaceful means.”
But he stressed that the Middle East must be free of weapons of mass destruction — a presumed reference to Israel which is widely believed to be the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear-armed power.
Patil arrived in Damascus on Friday after visiting the United Arab Emirates.
Assad said he discussed with Patil ways of bolstering ties with emerging markets in India, namely in the sectors of information technology, pharmaceuticals and textiles.