Syria defends decision to attend Annapolis

Syria, which came under sharp Iranian criticism for going to the Mideast peace conference, defended its decision to attend, saying Tuesday it was choosing peace and had made strides in previous negotiations.

Syria defends decision to attend Annapolis
In Iran, several officials and media condemned the U.S.-hosted conference and urged Arab countries not to compromise with the Israelis.

Syrian state-run media said the country hoped the conference could bring real peace to the region.

Syria is attending the Annapolis, Md., conference "because peace is its choice and because it has made strides in previous negotiations to achieve it," the daily Tishrin said in an editorial.

"Though we are hopeful that the region would move toward a real peace, yet this doesn't mean that the conference would achieve this goal," the editorial said.

It added that "Syria, which has a full desire to make peace, is ready to go to the ends of the earth to achieve this objective."

Iran's public criticism and Syria's statement seemed to indicate at least some tension between the two allies over the issue, although it was unclear how serious it was.

Hossein Shariatmadari, an adviser to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told a pan-Arab daily based in London, Asharq Al-Awsat, that Iran was surprised by Syria's decision to take part in the conference, which is trying to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We were surprised by the Syrian position, and we said that we do not support the conference. We expressed our opinion clearly and openly," Shariatmadari told the paper, adding that the conference was a "a plot against the Palestinians."

Syria previously has said it decided to send its deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, to the summit only after the issue of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was added to the agenda.

Iran has been sharply critical of the conference, saying it was doomed to fail. But Shariatmadari's comments were the first from Iran that explicitly mention Syria's decision to participate.

Iranian students' protest in Jordanian Embassy

On Monday, dozens of Iranian students gathered in front of the Jordanian Embassy in Tehran to protest the summit after Khamenei said in a speech broadcast on state TV that the summit was a failure meant to salvage America's reputation and not designed to help the Palestinians.

"Those who recognize Israel commit treason against Muslims and Palestinians," the protesters said in a statement in an apparent reference to Arab leaders who attended the conference.

On Tuesday, Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham called on Arab and Muslim countries not to compromise with Israel at the Annapolis summit.

"Compromise in Annapolis will have no result except discrediting. It will damage the reputation of the U.S and its supporters," Elham was quoted as saying by the official news agency, IRNA. He said Iran might host a conference of Palestinian groups soon.

The official Iran daily newspaper also condemned the conference.

"Will Arab leaders be ready to compromise over rights of Palestinian nation against Palestinians?" Iran said in an editorial. "The Annapolis conference is nothing more than a ridiculous intervention maneuver in and inter-Palestinian dispute."

Elham also urged Muslim countries not to show their support for the Jewish state.

"Regarding our brotherhood relations with Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, we are not interested in these countries standing next to the U.S. and Israel," IRNA quoted Elham as saying.

Nearly 50 nations and organizations are attending the summit. Iran is not among the invitees.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Kasım 2007, 11:32