M A I N   N E W S

Syria favours talks on Indo-Pak dispute

Damascus, November 16
In a clear endorsement of the Indian position, Syria today strongly favoured resolution of Indo-Pak problems through dialogue based on the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration and backed Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s peace initiative as the two countries condemned all acts of terrorism.

The significant backing of Syria, a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), came in a joint statement issued at the end of Mr Vajpayee’s three-day visit during which he held “highly successful” talks with Syrian President Basher al Assad.

The visit also helped Mr Vajpayee and Mr Assad, 40 years younger to the Indian leader, to strike a rapport. Reflective of the warmth in the ties, Mr Assad drove to the hotel where Mr Vajpayee was staying to see him off before he took off for a sight-seeing trip outside Damascus.

“India and Syria condemned all acts of terrorism to which both have been victims. Both agreed that terrorism should not be linked to any religion and no attempt should be made to tarnish any religion in the name of terrorism,” the joint statement said.

Welcoming Mr Vajpayee’s peace initiative for fostering “peace and good neighbourly relations” with Pakistan, the statement favoured resolution of Indo-Pak problems through dialogue.

Both sides supported strong cooperation for combating international terrorism according to international law and the stand of the Non-Aligned Movement in this regard.

Concluding his visit to Russia, Tajikistan and Syria, the Prime Minister said it had given a fresh impetus to bilateral cooperation with these “important countries” in regions of great political, economic and strategic significance for India.

Before emplaning for home, in a statement he spoke about the gains of the visit and allayed Arab apprehensions declaring India’s firm commitment to West Asia peace process on the basis of full implementation of UN resolutions and the “land for peace” principle.

Mr Vajpayee held extensive talks with Syrian President Basher al Assad on the situation in West Asia and Iraq. — PTI

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