Damascus: Syria on Saturday came out in full
support for New Delhi`s quest for a permanent seat in the UN
Security Council to make it a "more democratic, representative
and efficient" body and backed India`s fight against
President Bashar al-Assad told his Indian counterpart
Pratibha Patil, the first Indian head of state to visit this
West Asian country, that Damascus is all for reforming the
world body to make it "more democratic, representative and
"And on the 2nd anniversary of the terrorist Mumbai
bombings, marked yesterday, we renew our support to India in
fighting terrorism and in order to make the world more safe
and stable," he said after delegation level talks with his
The two leaders held "very constructive" talks after
ceremonial welcome was accorded to Patil by her Syrian
counterpart and his wife Asma al-Assad at the People`s Palace.
A highlight of the deliberations was Patil`s
announcement about extending USD 100 million Line of Credit to
Syria to be used by Damascus in sectors to be mutually agreed
upon, keeping in view its priorities.
"One of the main reasons for (the bilateral) economic
engagement not having reached the potential is the lack of
awareness of each others` requirements and capabilities", she
said in the backdrop of the fact that the bilateral trade has
only been a mere USD 500 million.
She said that India-Syria Business Council is being
launched tomorrow. It will focus on strengthening economic and
commercial links. Patil also announced that the number of
scholarships for Syria under the ITEC programme will be
increased from the present 45 to 90.
"I call upon Syria to make full use of this offer."
Areas that offer enormous potential for mutually
advantageous co-operation are the phosphate sector and
tourism, Patil said hailing Syria as a beautiful country,which
like India is an inheritor of an ancient civilisation.
She said this will be the third Line of Credit to
Syria by India. The purpose behind this offer is to encourage
Indian companies to involve themselves in developmental
projects in Syria, which will give them good exposure to the
Syrian market, and would also showcase to Syria the potential
of Indian companies.
Three MoUs were also signed after the talks which
Patil described as "very constructive".
The three MoUs were a cultural cooperation agreement
between the two countries, an MoU between PTI and Syrian Arab
News Agency (SANA) on media services exchange and another
between Prasar Bharati and its Syrian counterpart.
The MoU on cultural cooperation was signed by Latha
Reddy, Secretary (East) External Affairs Ministry and Syrian
Deputy Minister for Culture Ali Kayyam.
MoU on media services exchange was signed by Associate
Political Editor Sunil Gatade on behalf of PTI and Director
General Adnan Mahmoud on behalf of SANA. The agreement between
Prasar Bharati and its Syrian counterpart was signed by Indian
Ambassador V P Haran and Maan Haidar, D G of Syrian Radio and
Patil utilised the opportunity to extend India`s
strong support for Syria`s "legitimate right to the Golan
Heights, and for its very early and full return to Syria."
"India has consistently supported all just Arab
causes. I would like to reiterate India?s unwavering support
for a lasting and comprehensive peace to the Middle East
problem, based on relevant UN resolutions", she said.
The meeting today was held in a cordial atmosphere and
covered bilateral matters, as well as regional and
international issues of mutual interest, she said. The IT
Centre for Excellence, a project of India-Syria co-operation
agreed upon during President Assad`s visit to India, will
start functioning very soon, she said.
The IT Centre for Excellence, a project of India-Syria
co-operation agreed upon during President Assad`s visit to
India, will start functioning very soon.
Patil`s visit has come at a time when Syria has
started a `Look East` policy and is working for strengthening
ties with countries like India. President Assad said he
explained to his Indian counterpart the "absence of peace in
our region as a result of Israeli policies".
President Assad thanked India for the positions taken
in support of the Arab rights, particularly the cause of
Palestine and the cause of the Golan.
"India, which experienced the injustice of occupation,
knows and understands more than others the justice of the
cause of a people under occupation."
"Peace, when based on the principles of international
legitimacy and the land for peace principle and which restores
rights to their legitimate owners, is the only guarantee for
security, stability and prosperity in this region and the
world at large", he said.
"We expressed our hope that Syrian-Indian relations,
together with international efforts, will help put an end to
the suffering of the Palestinian people, blockaded by an
Apartheid wall", Assad observed.
The Syrian President said that during the talks he and
Patil examined the possibility of building a real strategic
partnership in areas like software, textile, pharmaceutical
and food industries, using advanced Indian technology.