Assad concludes two-day visit to Yemen [Archives:2006/1008/Front Page]

December 18 2006

Mohammed Al-Jabri
SANA'A, Dec. 17 ) Syrian President Bashar Assad left Aden Sunday following a two-day visit to Yemen for talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh on various regional issues, namely the Lebanese crisis.

During their meetings, the two leaders exchanged viewpoints on both regional and international issues of joint interest, particularly situations in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, as well as developments regarding Iran's nuclear aims.

The two sides held discussions Saturday at the presidential palace in Aden in the presence of Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi and his Syrian counterpart.

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs of State, David Welch, arrived in Yemen two days before Assad, meeting with President Saleh concerning the political situation in Lebanon.

According to German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Welch stated, “We are very, very concerned about interference by Syria in Lebanon. We don't believe Syria's role has been constructive or useful. We expressed to [Saleh] our worries about the destabilization that's occurring in Lebanon and the hands of some parties from outside.

“The Yemeni side also has its points of view, but I think we would agree to support a strong, sovereign and free Lebanon. I'll leave it to President Saleh to convey their views to President Assad; they know the views of the United States,” Welch noted.

Saleh and the U.S. official discussed the latest regional and international developments concerning both nations, particularly situations in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Somalia, as well as the Iranian nuclear program.

On Wednesday, U.S. President George W. Bush reportedly demanded that Syria stop undermining the Lebanese government and called on Damascus to release specific political prisoners.

“The Syrian regime also should cease its efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty by denying the Lebanese people their right to participate in the democratic process free from foreign intimidation and interference,” Bush said in a statement released by the White House.