Trilateral meeting in Damascus
The Jerusalem Post (Link) (February 26, 2010)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah met Thursday evening in Damascus along with their senior advisors, and discussed regional developments and �the Zionist threat,� it was revealed Friday.
The two were the guests of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who had dinner with the two and participated in the talks.
According to Arab media reports, the meeting was not reported upon until after it had taken place for security reasons.
On Thursday Ahmadinejad and Assad together unleashed vicious rhetoric against Israel, with Ahmadinejad declaring that the �criminal� state of Israel is doomed, and Assad charging that Israel �is capable of aggression at any point.�
Visiting Damascus, Ahmadinejad vowed that Arab nations will usher in a new Middle East �without Zionists and without colonialists.�
In remarks that extended to vicious criticism of the US, and made a mockery of Washington�s efforts to engage his Syrian hosts, Ahmadinejad said the United States should leave the Middle East and stay out of regional affairs.
�[The Americans] want to dominate the region but they feel Iran and Syria are preventing that,� Ahmadinejad said during a news conference with Assad. �We tell them that instead of interfering in the region�s affairs, to pack their things and leave.�
He added that �if the Zionist regime wants to repeat its past mistakes, this will constitute its demise and annihilation.�
Assad, for his part, said Syria was �facing an entity that is capable of aggression at any point, and we are preparing ourselves for any Israeli aggression, be it on a large or small scale.�
He added that America should not dictate relationships in the Middle East.
�I find it strange how they talk about Middle East stability and at the same time talk about dividing two countries,� Assad told reporters when asked about US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton�s call Wednesday for Syria to move away from Iran.
Assad took a swipe at Clinton for making such a suggestion, saying he and Ahmadinejad �misunderstood, maybe because of translation error or limited understanding.� In a show of unity, the two signed an agreement canceling travel visas between the their countries.
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, speaking to reporters in Washington on Thursday, said Assad �need only look around the region and recognize that Syria is increasingly an outlier.�
�We want to see Syria play a more constructive role in the region and one step would be to make clear what Iran needs to do differently. And unfortunately, there was no evidence of that today,� he said.
President Shimon Peres slammed the meeting between Ahmadinejad and Assad, warning that Iran�s true designs were for �hegemony over the Arab world in the Middle East.�
�The time has come to tell the truth,� Peres said at a memorial service for Joseph Trumpledor in Tel Hai.
�The problem in the Middle East is not the Palestinian problem, which will be solved in a peace process with Israel. The central problem in the Middle East is Iran�s attempt to take control of the Arab Middle East, which is why it is building an atomic bomb, and why it is supporting and developing terror organizations like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza,� Peres said.