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Four French MPs visited Bachar al Assad in Damascus

BEIRUT |, with agencies - February 26, 2015, 09h08
Photo by Sana agency.
A delegation of French MPs met with Syrian President Bachar al Assad on Wednesday in Damascus. The news, that was reported by Le Monde, triggered a serious controversy in France.
According to French daily Le Monde, a delegation of French lawmakers travelling “in a personal capacity” held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday in Damascus. French news agency AFP stated that this French “official” visit is the first of its kind since Paris broke off diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012, following Assad’s violent crackdown on opposition protests as of 2011.

The news of the visit was confirmed by Syrian state-run news agency SANA:

“During a meeting with a French delegation headed by Senate member and Head of the Senate’s French-Syrian Friendship Committee Jean-Pierre Vial President, Bashar al-Assad stressed that fighting terrorism demands a real political will and a conviction that the outcome will be in the interest of all inasmuch as the dangers jeopardize everyone,” SANA reported yesterday. "If this issue could be tackled based on that principle, surely we will have tangible positive results more quickly," added the Mr Al Assad, according to the official agency. Based on that logic, he said, Syria has always encouraged cooperation among countries considering that such cooperation is the most effective way to hold back terrorism and eventually eliminate it.

"The President made it clear that Syria has always been and still is with developing and boosting relations with other countries on the basis of respecting sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs and maintaining common interests," SANA also reported, adding that "he stressed the significant role which parliamentarians could play in rationalizing the government policies in a way that allows realizing the peoples’ interests."

SANA said that the talks touched upon the Syrian-French relations and the developments and challenges facing the Arab and European regions especially with regard to terrorism. The President’s view on developing relations was echoed by the French delegation members who voiced their belief in the necessity of joint work in the various fields to the best interest of the people of Syria and France. The official agency also said that the meeting was “marked by frankness and openness”.
However, the French Foreign ministry has distanced itself from the lawmakers’ initiative. A spokesperson for the French foreign ministry, said that the ministry had played no part in organising the trip. The lawmakers “carried no official message”, he said.

Jacques Myard, a member of parliament for the opposition UMP party, said to the AFP : “We met Bashar al-Assad for over an hour this morning”. He described the talks as “very direct”.

Myard said the delegation had also met with Mohamed Jiham Laham, the speaker of the Syrian parliament, and visited a local hospital where they saw "horrific things, [including] children wounded by terrorists".

“Terrorists” is the word used by the regime to describe all the opponents who protested against the regime as of 2011. The pacific movement was violently suppressed by the regime. The bloody crackdown was followed by the rising of armed militias. The revolution was transformed into a civil war.
The four French MPs who visited Assad included representatives of the ruling Socialists and the centrist UDI party.

Myard, an outspoken MP known for his pro-Russian stance in the Ukraine crisis, had earlier told the AFP news agency that he and his colleagues were on a “personal mission to see what is going on [in Syria]”.
#Syria, #Bachar_el_Assad
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