"Security can be achieved by peace, not war," Assad says

Israel Materials 29 March 2008 16:44 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Saturday that security in the Middle East can be only achieved through peaceful ways, not through wars and aggression.

In a speech opening the two-day Arab summit in Syria, al-Assad criticized Israel's understanding of security in the region.

"The Israeli understanding of security can never be achieved,as the Israeli occupation of the Arab territories contradicts with peace and security," al-Assad said.

He added: "If security is not mutual, it will be just illusive and not present."

The Syrian president used the word "holocaust" to describe the Israeli military offensive in Gaza.

"Here we are convening, while the blood of the Palestinian martyrs who have been killed in the Israeli massacres and its holocaust hasn't dried," he said. "The state-terror of Israel against our Arab nations represents the most horrible type of terror in the modern time."

Assad stressed that all Arab countries have a collective intention to achieve peace in the region, if only Israel expresses readiness for it.

"If wars and occupations were the most serious issues that we had faced within the last decades, the battle for peace wasn't less important. We realize how important peace is for a long time," the Syrian leader said.

Concerning Beirut's political crisis, he said the Lebanese people were the key players to end the stand-off and elect a new president.

"We are ready to cooperate with any Arab or non-Arab efforts to end the crisis there," Assad pledged.

A deep inter-Arab rift over Lebanon's political standoff has hit the Syrian-hosted summit of Arab heads of state, with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan staying away and Lebanon boycotting the meeting.