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13th June 2012
It’s been a big week or several for Her Majesty the Queen. Ditto Bashar Assad, so-called leader of the Syrian people. But have they ever met? Well, yes, as it happens.
Excerpt from “President Assad meets Queen”
‘Syrian president Bashar Assad was meeting the Queen today, after publicly rebuffing a call from Tony Blair to shut down Palestinian terror organisations operating in his country.’
No date is given but clearly it is in regard to the December 2002 visit of the Assads to Britain.
In December 2002, President Assad & his wife Asma met the Queen in London
This topical Assad/Queen reference is here for the same reason that other things are; to balance the record.
Right from the start of Assad Junior’s rule Tony Blair was down on him with demands, expectations, hopes (all of which were to be denied) that we now had a Middle East ally who KNEW how terror-led were many of the regimes in that region. He had already been rebuffed by Assad and to the joy of our press (even though we were pre-Iraq war) humiliated publicly, as recorded here by Alastair Campbell)
Tony Blair with President Assad, & their wives in London, 2002
But don’t ever be led to believe that Tony Blair did not feel concerned that Assad was just as likely to turn out a bad un as had his father. And whatever you do, don’t expect the Daily Mail to remind you. They are scouring the internet right now to try to find the two locked in a Gaddafi-type embrace to prove whatever….
As at Daily Mail
President Assad meets Queen
Syrian president Bashar Assad was meeting the Queen today, after publicly rebuffing a call from Tony Blair to shut down Palestinian terror organisations operating in his country.
Following an audience with the Queen, on day three of his visit to Britain, Mr Assad was meeting the Prince of Wales as well as opposition leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Charles Kennedy.
After talks with the Prime Minister in Downing Street yesterday, Mr Assad insisted that there were no Palestinian terrorists in Syria – simply “press officers”.
“Of course we don’t have in Syria what are called organisations supporting terrorism. We have press officers,” he told a joint news conference.
“These press officers represent Palestinians who live in Syria and Palestinians who live in Palestine.
“These officers express the opinions of Palestinians inside Palestine and outside Palestine. Palestinians have a right to have someone to express their opinion.
“In our country they are called press officers. They are not called terrorist organisations.”
Earlier Foreign Office Minister Mike O’Brien had expressed the Government’s concern at continuing the presence in Syria of offices of “rejectionist” groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
But despite the disagreement on the issue of the Palestinian groups, the talks appeared to have gone more smoothly than Mr Blair’s visit to Damascus last year when he was harangued by Mr Assad over the Middle East peace process.
Mr Assad, on his first official visit to Britain, said that they had agreed on most “basic issues” and spoke of his “warm personal relations” with Mr Blair.
The Prime Minister acknowledged there had been “obvious and clear” differences between them, but said that the “process of engagement” with Syria was “the right way forward”.
On Iraq, Mr Assad, who opposes military intervention, said that so far there appeared to have been “good co-operation” from the Iraqis with the United Nations weapons inspectors.
He said he was “optimistic” that conflict could be averted.
“We hope this co-operation will continue until this crisis is resolved peacefully,” he said.
Mr Blair said British officials were still studying Iraq’s declaration of its remaining weapons of mass destruction programmes which was submitted to the UN on December 7 and awaiting the report of the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.
“The inspectors should be allowed to carry out their work. We have made it clear that if there is a breach (of the UN resolution), then action should follow,” he said.
In the Commons later Mr Blair announced that he had invited leading Palestinians to London next month to discuss reform of the Palestinian Authority.
The aim is to ensure that if American-brokered peace talks do achieve a breakthrough, the Palestinian Authority will be sufficiently strengthened to take on its allotted role.
“It is in the interests of both the Palestinians and Israelis that these reform efforts succeed, so that we can make a reality of President Bush’s vision of two states – Israel and Palestine -living side by side in peace and security,” he said.
Representatives of the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia will also attend the talks along with officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
The exact date and venue for the meeting – which will be chaired by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw – have yet to be decided.
Mr Straw said the meeting with leading Palestinians in London next month would be “medium level” but “a step in the right direction”.
He told Channel 4 News: “There are some obvious practical difficulties, to put it mildly, about all the leadership of the Palestinians coming to London.
“But we nonetheless think that this is a useful contribution to a process of reform of the Palestinian Authority, of Palestinian institutions, which is essential, first of all to improve the conditions of the Palestinians at present.
“When there is a ceasefire and a better future for the Palestinians as there will have to be, then improvements in their institutions will be of paramount importance to delivering to the Palestinian people the new expectations for their future which will have been generated.”
Mr Straw said there was no pretence that Britain saw eye to eye with Syria on everything, but added: “As a result of the kind of active diplomacy … in which we have been engaged with Syria, we are much closer together and there’s a much better common understanding.”
So there we have it. We can but try with such as Assad, as we did with Gaddafi. Once they start killing their own people they must know they’re on their own.
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