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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

ACCUSATIONS AGAINST SYRIA ARE UNSUBSTANTIATED

RIA Novosti

DAMASCUS, February 10 (RIA Novosti, Alexander Krasnov, Yulia Troitskaya) - The current accusations against Syria are unsubstantiated, Yevgeny Primakov, the president of the Commerce and Industry Chamber, said to RIA Novosti.

"All the accusations, sometimes threatening, against Syria that it supports terrorists and abstains from peaceful settlement in the Middle East are unsubstantiated," stressed Mr. Primakov.

According to him, the communiqué summing up the visit of President Bashar al-Asad is graphic evidence.

"The communiqué clearly stated Syria's readiness to start negotiations with Israel without any preliminary consultations, and now the ball is on Israel's side, but it is not in a hurry to bring it into play," said Mr. Primakov.

He recalled that before al-Asad's visit to Moscow, Russia and Syria were subject to certain pressure to cancel the visit. "But we withstood the pressure, because it is based on mere rumors and far-fetched accusations," stressed Mr. Primakov.

According to him, such moves seek to isolate Syria.

However, Mr. Primakov noted, "Syria is a very important figure in the current circumstances in the Middle East."

He added that at their meeting, the Syrian president had confirmed his readiness to launch negotiations with Israel and said that Syrian territory would never become a terrorist training base.

Mr. Primakov is confident that Russia still plays a crucial and active role in the Middle East.

He recalled that the idea to set up the quartet of international mediators including the UN, the EU, the US and Russia belonged to Russian diplomacy. According to Mr. Primakov, this prevents the peace process from being monopolized.

As for the talks between PNA leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Mr. Primakov said, "we welcome these steps, even though they are not the final steps," and hope they will be implemented, "despite numerous undercurrents." According to him, "it is impossible to do more than that at this stage."

Mr. Primakov is a former prime minister, a former foreign minister and a former head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, as well as a prominent expert in Middle East studies.



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