Cablegate: Special Media Reaction Report: Jimmy Carter's Visit To
DE RUEHDM #0886/01 3510529
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160529Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5689
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7469
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 5035
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3775
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 8032
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 2258
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5665
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1621
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7644
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000886
DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ELA, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR VOA NEWS CA,
NEA/PPD, IIP/G/NEA-SA MRUSSELL
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Special Media Reaction Report: Jimmy Carter's Visit to
1. Summary: The December 13-15 visit to Damascus by former
President Jimmy Carter consumed headlines in all four Syrian dailies
during the course of the visit. The tone of reporting was decidedly
optimistic, particularly on the prospects for U.S.-Syrian relations
and the return of a U.S. Ambassador to Damascus, with the
government-owned press seeing in Carter's upbeat remarks a new era
in U.S.-Syrian relations. End Summary.
Key Stories in the Media:
Syrian papers on December 14 and 15 focused on the visit to Damascus
by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Banner headlines announced
Carter's December 13 meeting with President Asad. The coverage
focused on Carter's comments, during his press conference, on the
Middle East peace process, the Turkey-mediated talks between Syria
and Israel and the issue of the occupied Syrian Golan. According to
media reports, the meeting between Carter and Asad touched upon
Syrian-American relations and prospects for improving these
relations under the Obama Administration.
Carter's Press Conference:
All papers on December 14 quoted extensively from Carter's news
conference following his meeting with President Asad, in which
Carter said: "Peace will not be achieved in the region without the
full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan and from the
rest of the occupied Arab territories."
The Syrian media highlighted Carter's comments on Syrian-U.S.
relations: "Everything will be better when U.S. President-elect
Barack Obama takes office".
Media reported Carter's calls for establishing peace in the region
on the basis of UNSC resolutions and the Arab peace initiative,
reconciliation among all Palestinian factions, and the need for
Israel to fulfill its commitments towards Palestinians. Papers also
highlighted Carter's statement expressing hope that Obama will make
Middle East peace a top priority.
Mr. Carter said that his talks with President Asad touched upon
U.S.-Syrian relations, expressing hope that the U.S. ambassador
would return to Damascus with the advent of the new U.S.
On Turkish-mediated indirect talks between Syria and Israel, Carter
said the U.S. has to be involved in the peace talks between Syria
and Israel in the future.
On the situation in Iraq, Mr. Carter said Obama will abide by his
promises, leading to better relations with the countries of the
region, enabling the Iraqi people and their government to run their
All papers on December 15 reported President Jimmy Carter's meeting
with Khaled Mashaal, Head of Hamas Political Bureau. A Palestinian
source told Kuwaiti News Agency that both men discussed the
situation in the Palestinian territories, inter-Palestinian
conflict, and the issue of imprisoned Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Elaph website quoted a Syrian political analyst as saying that
Carter's visit to Syria sends indirect messages about the prospect
for resolving regional issues.
"President Asad discusses the peace process and the tragic situation
in the Palestinian territories with Carter. Carter: Syrian-American
relations will improve with the new U.S. administration. Carter in
the press conference: Peace cannot be fulfilled without an Israeli
pullout from the Golan." (SARG-owned Tishreen, December 14)
"President Asad accompanies his guest in a visit to Malula. Carter:
'We hope that the American and Syrian people will enjoy peace and
that the Palestinian people will regain their rights.' (Independent
al-Watan, December 15)
"Carter and Mashaal meet in Damascus to explore solutions to end the
Palestinian people's suffering" (Independent al-Watan, December 15)
"For a Dialogue That Eliminates Fears"
An editorial in SARG-owned Al-Thawra on December 14 read: "The
positions expressed by Carter in Damascus constitute a demand and a
need that has been absent from U.S. discourse for many years...
"Indeed, everyone is willing to discuss regional issues with the
U.S.... The U.S. dialogue that Carter talked about is necessary at
all times, not only with the region, but also with the world at
"Syria, which has called for dialogue in all circumstances, sees in
the American direction announced by former President Carter a new
era and a horizon which opens the door to an important stage in the
American political approach towards the region..."