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Cablegate: Syria/Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Peace

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0857/01 2341151
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221151Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4078
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7060
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4738
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3407
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7867
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1976
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5301
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1495
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7588

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000857

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ARN, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR:STHIBEAULT AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, AZAIBACK, AND
AFERNANDEZ, IIP/G/NEA-SA MDAVIDSON
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Syria/Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Peace
Conference (8/22)


1. Summary: Syrian papers on August 22 reported President Asad's
meeting on August 21 with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in
which he reiterated Syria's support for the current political
process in Iraq and stressed the need to intensify efforts to create
a suitable foundation for achieving national reconciliation among
Iraqi parties in order to guarantee Iraq's unity and independence
and consolidate its Arab and Islamic identity. President Asad
condemned the terrorist attacks targeting Iraqi people, institutions
and places of worship. Al-Maliki and the accompanying delegation
expressed relief over President Asad's positions regarding Iraq and
his commitment to its security and stability. Talks during the
meeting focused on bilateral relations and means of strengthening
them in the interest of both peoples. Talks also dealt with current
security cooperation between the two countries and the need to
bolster it, in addition to economic relations and the importance of
achieving economic integration between Iraq and Syria. Later, VP
Shara continued discussions with Prime Minister Al-Maliki in a
separate meeting.

In a statement to reporters following the meetings, Al-Maliki
described the atmosphere of talks as positive, saying "the two
countries seek to establish bilateral relations on all levels."
"Talks concentrated on the economic domain in order to provide
opportunities of cooperation in this field," Iraqi Premier added,
noting "Iraq needs Syrian efforts and Syrian companies to contribute
to the reconstruction process in all fields." "The Security file in
Iraq is considered the golden key to the developments and positive
points we are searching for, so this file was one of the main issues
during dialogues and we found Syrian understanding in this regard,"
Al-Maliki stressed. He denied conveying a message from anyone to
Syria, saying "I convey the message of Iraq; I convey files for
understanding; I believe that Iraq's neighboring countries are
concerned with controlling security and stability; we found
understanding and support for the political process and national
reconciliation."

As for agreements between both states, Al-Maliki expressed interest
in reviving former agreements and putting them into effect. On
Iraqi refugees in Syria, the Iraqi Prime Minister said this issue is
human and needs cooperation with Syria to tackle this issue and
support those refugees during this ordeal as well as providing them
with stability and preparing for their return to their homeland
after a secure condition is stable there.

Syrian commentators reiterated the importance of Iraqi Prime
Minister Al-Maliki's visit to Syria and stressed that the solution
to Iraq's problem lies in the withdrawal of the American forces from
Iraq and the achievement of political reconciliation in the country.


End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"President Asad discusses with Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki the
importance of boosting security cooperation and achieving economic
integration.
President Asad reiterates to Al-Maliki Syria's support of the
current political process and national reconciliation in Iraq.
President Asad condemns the terrorist attacks targeting Iraqi
people, institutions and places of worship" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 8/22)

"Al-Maliki: We had positive and good talks. We need Syrian
companies to contribute to the reconstruction process in all fields"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/22)

"Syria and Iraq conclude agreements in the oil field. Formulas
reached on security cooperation. Al-Maliki denied Washington's
claims: I carried a message from Iraq; I did not carry another
message" (Independent al-Watan, 8/22)

"Syria and Iraq agree to rehabilitate a crude petroleum transport
pipeline between Iraqi city of Kirkuk and Syrian coastal city of
Banyas" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/22)

"In the light of heavy criticism caused by his visit to Baghdad,
Kouchner: Paris' policy on Iraq is independent from Washington's"
(Independent al-Watan, 8/22)

"Israel continues its terrorist escalation against the Gaza Strip.
Five Palestinians martyred in Gaza; one martyred in Nablus"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/22)
"A Week before his appearance before Congress to assess a new
strategy for Iraq, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker: Our progress in Iraq
is disappointing" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/22)

"A split in Washington over amending the 49th article of the
Lebanese Constitution. Lahoud heads towards forming a six-fold
salvation government headed by the army commander" (Independent
al-Watan, 8/22)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

---------------------

"With Fraternal Iraq"

---------------------

Omar Jaftali, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(8/22): "Damascus welcomed the Iraqi Prime Minister hoping his
visit will mark a new and serious stage in the relations between the
two sisterly countries in all fields and help resolve all the
pending issues....

"The US occupation is the reason behind the tragedy of Iraq and all
Iraqis, not the neighboring countries, as the occupation claims....

"Syria, which is greatly grieved by the security deterioration in
Iraq, has extended its hand to Iraqi brothers, removed all the
excuses that the American occupation gave, resumed the diplomatic
relations with Iraq, signed many economic cooperation agreements
with Iraq and worked to activate them to serve the two countries and
peoples, hosted about 2 million displaced Iraqis and has given them
special treatment....

"Now that Al-Maliki's visit has boosted relations and cooperation
between Syria and Iraq, the visit also provides an opportunity for
the Iraqi Prime Minister to learn the Syrian viewpoint and Syria's
cooperation with every measure that would end the suffering and the
tragedy of Iraqis at home and abroad....

"There is no doubt that the Iraqi brothers' endeavor to schedule
withdrawal of occupation forces, up to the full removal of this
occupation, and to achieve a political reconciliation, which is
indispensable to strengthen the Iraqi people's ability to confront
hard circumstances, constitutes the strong foundation for a unified
Iraq of the future within its Arab family.

"Syria will not hesitate to help Iraqi brothers fulfill their
aspirations and to effectively contribute to the easing of their
suffering so that Iraq can return to the Arab fold united and
recovered from all the harm caused by occupation."

--------------------

"The Starting Point"

--------------------

Ali Qasim, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(8/22): "In Damascus, Al-Maliki found and sensed facts that many
have long tried to suppress, and in some cases to distort and twist.
He saw firsthand the huge efforts that Syria is making to help
Iraqis come out of their crisis, and he clearly heard the ideas and
proposals, and even the bases, that can form the genuine framework
for any solution in Iraq....

"Syria from the very beginning announced its position against the
occupation of Iraq and clearly determined the difficult challenges

the region would face as a result of the occupation.

"In this visit, necessity dictates that the Iraqi Prime Minister
rearrange the equation in light of the Syrian reading of the Iraqi
situation, especially when this reading offers the true formulas
that ensure Iraq's unity and stability and help the country preserve
its independence and existence....
"The Iraqi Prime Minister, who is facing all kinds of challenges,
and who is coming under immense pressure from the occupation's
administration, realizes this fact, especially when the occupation
tries to blame Iraqis and other countries in the region for its
crisis and failure.... In this climate, the visit appears important
for Syrian-Iraqi relations, and its results will reflect positively
on the region....

"The Middle East, which is experiencing the most dangerous situation
in its history, remains, with its countries and peoples, the more
able to fulfill the ambitions of its peoples and determine the best
ways for its relations. The starting point is the end of the
occupation, from which the region is suffering."

----------------------------------------

"What Al-Maliki Will Hear in Damascus?"

----------------------------------------

Ibrahim Darraji, a commentator in independent al-Watan, wrote
(8/22): "Recently there were some incidents on the Syrian-Iraqi
border in which Americans, who supervise the border on the Iraqi
side, deliberately spread chaos and created crises for Syrians and
then publicly accused Syria of non-cooperation to control the border
holding Syria responsible for the failure of all US policies and
plans in Iraq....

"We hope that Syrian officials will explain to Al-Maliki the lack of
cooperation from the other side of the border, which is controlled
by Americans, and the security and humanitarian problems this lack
of cooperation creates for Syria, which has the right to complain
about the failure to cooperate with it to control the border....

"We hope Al-Maliki will be told about all the efforts that Syria is
making to control the border, including cooperation with the
international organizations, such as the International Organization
for Migration, to bring in experts and equipment to identify the
points of weakness and strengthen the ability to discover forged
documents. This is in addition to the security efforts, which led
to our border forces coming under more than 100 attacks from inside
Iraq and resulting in the martyrdom of six of our soldiers and the
wounding of 17 others. This is what Syria is doing. What did the
others offer other than further intentional chaos and plenty of
accusations and lies, which appear to have become the main
characteristic of the policies of many countries these days?"

-------------------------------

"Britain... Pullout Is Courage"

--------------------------------

Sa'id Musallam, a commentator in government-owned al-Thawra, wrote
(8/22): "British military leaders recently confirmed the importance
of withdrawing British forces from Iraq because there is nothing for
them to achieve there....

"The possible British withdrawal disturbs the US Administration's
hawks. This is why the United States asked Sarkozy, its new ally,
to send his foreign minister to Baghdad. The aim is to show that
the allies are increasing or at least to make up for the withdrawal
of a main party from the field. But they are under a big illusion.
Until the British forces are ordered to leave, the tsar of the White
House will remain busy arranging the loyalty of his last allies:
Laura and his dog. And even this is doubtful!"

------------------------------


"Without Previous Preparation"

------------------------------

Haydar Haydar, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(8/22): "President Bush's call for a peace meeting in Washington in
December shows the amount of maneuvering in the persistent efforts
that are being made to arrange the situation in the region based on
American and Israeli interests and without taking into consideration
the interests of the peoples of the region and their aspirations for
a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace based on UN
resolutions....

"The call for the meeting was made without consulting with anyone
and without preparation in advance.... This is a booby-trapped call
to devour Arab rights...."

Corbin

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