Raul Castro receives Syrian Minister of Information

Minister of Information of the Arab Republic of Syria, Mohasen Bilel
HAVANA (29 August 2006) - RAUL CASTRO, Second Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, met on Sunday, August 27 with a delegation from Syria headed by the Minister of Information, Mohsen Bilal.

The Syrian minister traveled to Cuba as a personal emissary of President Bachar Al Assad. He carried a message to Raul Castro wishing Cuban President Fidel Castro a speedy recovery and reaffirmed his country's solidarity with the people, Communist Party and government of Cuba at a time when it faces escalated threats and aggressions from the Bush administration.

During the meeting, Bilal confirmed that President Al Assad will participate at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit set for September 11-16 in Havana and gave the Syrian government's total support for Cuba as the next president of the 116-member NAM.

The minister informed the Cubans on the situation in the Middle East and his country after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the increased repression and massacres against the Palestinian people and the intensified threats against Syria.

Raul Castro expressed appreciation for the message from President Bachar Al Assad and reiterated Cuba's support to the Syrian people in the face of aggressions and hostilities from Tel Aviv. He also confirmed the island's support of Syria's efforts to recover the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since the 1967 invasion.

Raul Castro told the visitor that President Fidel Castro was gradually and satisfactorily recovering from his surgery. He noted the total peace reigning in the country and the effort being made by the Communist Party, government and the people in general to carry out the tasks entrusted to them by Fidel in his July 31 Proclamation, including the decision to substantially raise the country's combat capacity and readiness.

He also said that Cuba is ready for the Non-Aligned Summit and highlighted the numerous displays of support received from around the world.

Accompanying Raul Castro in his meeting with the Syrian minister were Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and Fernando Remirez de Estonez, member of the Communist Party Secretariat.

Source: http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu

We want to build a new Middle East without US tampering

Interview with Mohsen Bilal, Minister of Information of the Arab Republic of Syria

AFTER a "long conversation between brothers and comrades with Army General Raul Castro Ruz," on Sunday afternoon, and before boarding his plane back to Damascus, the Syrian Minister of Information granted an exclusive interview to Granma.

Three weeks of Israeli aggression against the Lebanese people and threats against Syria and Iran compel us to ask the distinguished guest about his views on the current situation in the Middle East.

If we were to let ourselves be guided by the Western media, it would seem that this last confrontation is unconnected to the three other wars between the Israelis and the Arabs. This last, the longest of all, was the first time Israel was not confronted by an Army or a state. Despite all its military might, Israel was unable to defeat the Islamic movement Hezbollah; although in trying to do so, it killed over 1,000 Lebanese and destroyed a large portion of that country's infrastructure. On this matter, the Syrian minister said:

The region is now faced with the same problems as before the war on Lebanon, with the US administration's propensity to impose its hegemony in the region. The United States has clearly stated that it wants to build a new Middle East, a key piece in its plans for domination.

Confronted with this situation, Syrian President Bachar Al Assad has been very emphatic on the need to build a new Middle East, without the tampering of the United States or aggression from Israel. The Arab Middle East should be one where our will is respected; the will of resistance, freedom, social, economic and political development. This is what we need to build.

Our countries have been attacked and our territories have been occupied by Israel; this is why we have the right to fight and resist until we build a region of peace, free from foreign interference, threats and aggressions.

Events in Lebanon have destroyed the myth of Israeli invulnerability. What has been the impact of this latest aggression within Israel?

Today, Israel is in the midst of a severe political dilemma. The government of Prime Minister Olmert is faced with a real crisis, and it is possible that the current coalition will have to step down from power, amidst the current contradictions. Several different opinions have surfaced in the aftermath of the aggression on Lebanon.

On one side are the current Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Security and Defense who are talking about negotiating and engaging in a dialogue with Syria. The return of the Golan Heights should be at the center of these negotiations.

On the other hand, we have deputy Prime Minister Simon Peres who is saying that Israel has come to the bargaining table five times with no results. Our President has reiterated that we are willing to negotiate, but we demand the return of the Golan Heights to Syrian sovereignty and the withdrawal of Israel to the border it had on June 4, 1967. Once this occurs, we will be ready to meet the Israelis in the quest of a peace which encompass its withdrawal from Southern Lebanon and the return of the occupied Palestinian Territories. Tel Aviv should acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to have an independent state and the rights of the refugees to return to their homeland.

Those who attack Palestine and Lebanon, and occupy their territories, know too well that they are to blame for the instability in the region.

Source: http://www.periodico26.cu
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