Assad begins Latin America tour
SYRIA: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad embarks on a landmark Latin
American tour Friday to reinforce economic ties with a continent he is
visiting for the first time.
Accompanied by his wife, Asma, the Syrian leader will arrive in
Venezuela Friday before proceeding to Brazil and Argentina, all three
home to large communities of Syrian emigres. He will also visit Cuba to
strengthen traditionally close ties. “Bilateral relations and
developments in the Middle East and Latin America” will dominate
discussions in the four countries, the official SANA news agency said,
without providing a detailed schedule of the visit.
“This is a trip that was envisaged for a long time but was not
carried out for various reasons,” said a Western diplomat in Damascus.
Boycotted and sidelined for decades by the United States and the West
for allegedly supporting terrorism, Syria has begun to assert itself as
a key player in the Middle East.
Last month, shortly after the United States accused Syria of
supporting “terrorist” groups and renewed sanctions for another year,
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described Damascus as a key political
player in the region.
Damascus, Friday, AFP