Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed Syrian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the recent visit to Damascus by the Democratic US Senator Arlen Specter comes within the framework of efforts to give a push to the Syrian-US dialogue and bilateral relations, and as part of the US senator’s personal interest in this dossier. Senator Specter is well known for his frequent visits to Damascus since the era of the late President Hafiz al-Assad. He has visited Damascus approximately 15 times. These sources noted that the US Administration’s current interest is focused on the Palestinian-Israeli peace track, and that it has urged Syria and other Arab countries not to hamper the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to engage in direct negotiations.” These sources said in surprise that “the US Administration requests [Syria] not to hamper the PA’s efforts to head for direct negotiations at a time when the Palestinian party displays hesitation over the outcome of the indirect negotiations, which have not achieved the desired objectives. Moreover, Amr Musa, the Arab League secretary general, has unequivocally announced the failure of the indirect negotiations.”
These sources reasserted Syria’s well-known position on peace, that “Syria wants peace, but the Israeli government is not prepared for peace.”
There has been no official comment in Damascus on Senator Specter’s visit or on a report by the Israeli paper Yedi’ot Aharonot on 10 June that the US senator “conveyed a message from an Israeli official to President Al-Assad.”Nor have the Syrian official media outlets announced Senator Specter’s visit. However, certain Syrian websites and the independent paper Al-Watan were content with publishing a statement released by the US Embassy in Damascus on 10 June, which said that Senator Specter held “constructive and in-depth talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on 10 June on the huge challenges facing the region and ways that the United States ands Syria can follow to overcome these challenges.” The meeting also dealt with “specific steps to enhance regional stability and revive the Syrian-Israeli peace talks and strengthen Us-Syrian relations.”
Syrian President Al-Assad and his wife Asma al-Assad arrive on an official two-day visit to Tunisia yesterdays in response an invitation by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and First Lady Layla Ben Ali.