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05 March, 2001
National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos held talks on Sunday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and briefed him on Greece's security and defense policy, both at European and national level, stressed the importance attributed by Athens to peace and security in the wider region and conveyed the interest of the European Union in consolidating peace in the Middle East.
Tsohatzopoulos, who paid an official visit to Damascus and met with his Syrian counterpart general Mustafa Tlas and Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa Miru, said his meeting with the Syrian president "is a great moment in relations between the two countries."
Tsohatzopoulos said bloodshed should stop immediately and the peace dialogue in the Middle East should resume on the basis of UN resolutions. He also assessed that in the new phase of resolving the Middle East issue, on the one hand the European Union has an upgraded role to play and, on the other, Greece should move along a new and creative base.
He also congratulated the new Syrian president on his election and wished him every success in his task. He also mentioned past cooperation established between the two countries by the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and the late Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.
Tsohatzopoulos, commenting on Greece's relations with Israel and Turkey, spoke of a wider regional security policy in the area which should include peace in the Middle East, the revocation of Turkey's unilateral demands on Greece, a solution to the Cyprus issue and a change in past relations with Israel to enable relations with Tel Aviv and the Arab countries to be placed on an equal footing.
The national defense minister also met with Patriarch Ignatios and members of the Greek community in Damascus.
Source: Athens News Agency