Note: it starts at 7:32 into the video. ~ Lo
SEPTEMBER 04, 2007 MSNBC TUCKER
Kucinich meets President Assad in Syria to discuss Iraq peace plan
DAMASCUS, SYRIA – – (SEPT. 2)
Syrian President Bashar Assad in a meeting today with Dennis Kucinich, US Democratic Presidential candidate said that Syria would be willing to participate in the stabilizing of Iraq in a process which includes both a multinational peacekeeping and security force to move in and stabilize Iraq as the US leaves and a parallel political process, including a national conference to enable Iraq to manage its transition from occupied country to sovereign nation.
Assad made these assurances and other observations in a two-hour meeting with Kucinich, who travelled to Syria to discuss a peace initiative which has arisen out of his work in the House of Representatives, HR 1234. President Assad agreed with Kucinich that various US demands for the privatization of Iraq’s oil and partition of Iraq would mean a continuation of war.
“We must stand for strength through peace, for a sovereign and unified Iraq. President Assad is willing for Syria to play a significant role in assisting in the stabilization of Iraq,” said Kucinich. “President Assad knows that an international peace keeping and security force must be organized and ready to deploy in order to facilitate the end of the occupation. He understands that the US cannot leave a vacuum in Iraq, but that at present the US occupation of is fueling the insurgency. He is recommending a parallel political process involving an Iraqi national conference, the disarming of militias, and the building up an Iraqi army which would eventually takeover from international peacekeepers.”
Kucinich said the fact that Syria, a nation of just 12 million people, has both welcomed and is providing free healthcare and education to the million and a half Iraqi refugees is evidence of Syria’s vital role in the region. “The international community must recognize and appreciate that Syria has at its own great cost provided a lifeboat to millions who suffer from the humanitarian crisis which the war in Iraq has created.”
Late last night Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth visited a neighborhood of Damascus which was teeming with Iraqi refugees. “People are desperate. They have lost loved ones in the war. They have nothing but the clothes on their back, but they have their lives, thanks to President Assad’s willingness to open Syria to the Iraqi refugees. This is a profound humanitarian gesture, since it increases the population of Syria by almost 10%. Now we must help Syria provide for these refugees,” Kucinich said.
Kucinich told President Assad that he will take up the refugee matter with the UN Secretary General and the US Congress.
Kucinich and Assad discussed a wide range of other matters including building relations between Syria and the United States, the role of the European community in negotiations between Syria and Israel, hopes for a national unity government in Lebanon, conditions affecting Pakistan and Assad’s desire for a peace agreement with Israel hinging on resolution of matters relating to Golan.
After the meeting Mrs. Kucinich met with British born Mrs. Assad to discuss their mutual interests and work in community economic development, education and the welfare of refugees. “Like Dennis and I, Mrs. Assad works in partnership with her husband, President Assad. She is a woman of great vision and grace, of compassion and humanity, a Syrian Princess Diana”, said Mrs. Kucinich.
Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth visited the ancient holy site of Notre Dame de Saydanaya, where the Virgin Mary appeared to Byzantine Emperor Justinian some 1500 years ago and where today fully veiled Muslim women worship together with Christians. “This is the one of the few places in the world that I have witnessed such profound coexistence, and harmony,” Mrs. Kucinich said. “In this time of religious strife it is important to bear witness to places which show the way of peace.” The couple also visited an orphanage attached to the Notre Dame convent and were serenaded by a small choir of children from many nations who sang ‘That’s the way it is’ by Celine Dion.
This evening Kucinich spoke to over 150 academicians, journalists and politicians in Damascus where he presented his new security doctrine ‘Strength through Peace’. “Strength through Peace turns the neoconservative doctrine of Peace through Strength on its head. The neo-cons’ Peace through Strength, has led to unilateralism, military build up and illegal war.” Kucinich told the packed audience, “Strength through Peace favors the upholding of international law, treaties and direct engagement, which is why I am here” Kucinich added.
“I believe that through direct engagement, through looking eye to eye and communicating heart to heart there is new hope for peace,” he said. “The world is ready to fall in love with America again. It is important that America reaches out to show our true values, our compassion and our willingness to work for peace.”
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (Sept. 1, 2007)
U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Democratic Presidential candidate, will meet tomorrow with Syrian President Bashar Assad as part of a Middle East peace initiative and fact-finding tour. In the meeting with President Assad, Kucinich is expected to discuss a new security philosophy of “Strength through Peace” which the Democratic congressman has crafted as a means of achieving peace among nations.
“Strength through Peace means direct engagement, diplomacy, adherence to international law and upholding treaties, what President Franklin Roosevelt once called ‘the science of human relations’,” said Kucinich.
“Strength through Peace is vastly different from the dead end neo-conservative ‘Peace through Strength’ doctrine which attempts to legitimatize unilateralism, first strike and preemption. I want President Assad to know that our congress and our nation has people who believe in direct engagement.”
Kucinich is expected to discuss approaches to ending the war in Iraq, as well as to discuss the Baker Hamilton report to Congress which recommended direct engagement with Syria as a means to peace in Iraq.
“President Assad will be pleased to know that there are many Americans who are committed to peaceful relations. I believe that Syria can play an important and constructive role in achieving peace in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Syria has cooperated with the United States on security matters in the recent past. Only through direct engagement can we hope to achieve the level of trust and dialogue which is necessary to achieve peace,” Kucinich, whose plan for resolution of the war in Iraq is articulated in HR 1234.
Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth today toured the border city of Quneitra in the Golan region and spoke with local officials regarding the effects of the Israeli occupation which began in 1967. The officials took the Congressman and his wife to view the widespread destruction of Quneitra by Israel which occurred in 1973 after then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had negotiated a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Syria.
The Kuciniches visited the site of the “Shouting Valley” where Syrians whose families were separated through the occupation of Majdal Chams, literally shout to each other across a distance of several hundred yards in order to maintain family contact.
“The Golan region is obviously one of the issues which will come up in our discussion with President Assad. I felt it was important to see for ourselves to better understand the contours of the issue. As a Congressman and as a Presidential candidate, I have an obligation to see for myself,” Kucinich said.
Kucinich and his wife are also visiting Jaramanh where some of the one and a half million Iraqi refugees in Syria have settled. The Congressman, who has been very active in discussing the plight of the war-torn Iraqi people, expects to take up with President Assad matters relating to refugees from Iraq.
A top Syrian official, Munir Ali, praised Kucinich’s visit in light of the meeting of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi with President Assad. “Agreements and peaceful coexistence are much more effective than occupation.”
“Nancy Pelosi talked to people in the marketplace. This is very important. It changes people to know that someone from the US government would come to Syria and talk with normal people. It builds friendship and creates a new reputation for America,” Ali said.
“We are working to build a new reputation for America in the region,” said Kucinich. “We want people to love America again. We want people to know that many Americans want peace and justice. Many Americans are hoping for a new role for America in the world, strength through peace. It is in that spirit that Elizabeth and I will meet with President Assad.”