French Prime Minister Raymond Barre, on a three-day visit to Syria, has re-affirmed his Government's support for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's controversial peace initiative with Israel.
French Prime Minister Raymond Barre, on a three-day visit to Syria, has re-affirmed his Government's support for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's controversial peace initiative with Israel. Speaking in Damascus on Saturday (November 26) he avoided mentioning the Egyptian leader by name, but said that he hoped, that despite difficulties, events which had just taken place in Jerusalem, would contribute to breaking down the walls of hostility in the Middle East.
SYNOPSIS: When Mr. Barre arrived at Damascus airport he was accompanied by French Foreign Minister Louis de Guiringaud and Foreign Trade Minister Andre Rossi. And waiting to greet them was Syrian Prime Minister Rahman Khleifawi. The visit was an important one for both sides. According to Reuters, informed sources said the Syrians were displeased at France's declared support for President Sadat's visit to Jerusalem, but both sides were anxious to make sure that political differences did not affect their economic and technological ties. France is Syria's second biggest trading partner in Europe after West Germany, and there has been a big increase in French technical assistance in agriculture, finance, telecommunications and the hotel industry.
From the airport the French Prime Minster went to Mr. Khkeifawi's headquarters.
Taking part in the talks with Mr. Barre and his party was Syrian Foreign Minster and Deputy Premier Abdel Halim Khaddam, who was later leaving for Moscow. The first round of discussions lasted more than two hours, and centred on the Middle East political situation.
The 20-strong French delegation was the highest ranking French Government team to visit Syria.
At a dinner, after the first round of talks, Mr. Khleifaw praised France for its balanced position on the Middle East conflict.