Syria accuses Israel of undermining Mideast security

Bashar al-Assad asked the EU to "exert pressure on Israel to halt its practices in the occupied Palestinian territories"
© AFP/File Joseph Eid

DAMASCUS (AFP) – President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday accused Israel of undermining security and stability in the Middle East, during talks with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.

“Israel’s policies of rejecting peace and continuing to threaten war is likely to undermine peace and security in the region,” the official SANA news agency quoted Assad as saying.

It said that during their meeting, Assad reiterated Syria’s commitment to peace “to restore its rights.”

He urged the European Union, of which Spain currently holds the chair, to “support Turkish mediation” which in 2008 brokered now stalled indirect peace talks between Syria and the Jewish state.

Assad also asked that the European Union “exert pressure on Israel to halt its practices in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in east Jerusalem, and lift the embargo on the Gaza Strip.”

SANA quoted Moratinos as saying both Spain and Europe were interested in “seeing an end to the climate of tension that prevails in the Middle East.”

They also discussed preparations for next month’s second summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, which was formed two years ago in Paris by Egypt and France, and is being hosted by Barcelona in Spain on June 7.

On Tuesday France urged the 43 members to prepare for the gathering “in a constructive manner,” following reports of a possible Arab boycott because of the planned presence of Israel’s hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.