- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2008

AS-SAFIR (LEBANON)

Suleiman, Assad meet to discuss borders

The upcoming summit between Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and Syria’s Bashar Assad was expected to discuss establishing diplomatic ties, demarcating their borders and reviewing the bilateral agreements.

The positive atmosphere of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem’s visit to Beirut prompted sources at the Lebanese presidency to reveal that the first summit of its kind between the two countries will have an open agenda to discuss “everything the Lebanese desire.”

AL-ANBAA (KUWAIT)

Iran says talks with U.S. ‘possible’

Despite growing tension between the two countries over Iran’s nuclear program, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not rule out talks with the United States in the near future.

He told state-run Iranian TV that possible talks with Washington would be on a lower-than-government level, adding that Tehran was keen on holding “dialogue with the entire world’s countries, except the Zionist entity,” in reference to Israel.

AZ-ZAMAN (LONDON; IRAQ)

Former Iraqi VP hits militia, al Qaeda

Iraq’s former vice president, Izzat al-Douri, in an audio message sharply criticized the approach of the al Qaeda network and the Shi’ite Mahdi Army militia to fighting the American forces, promising the latter a “decisive end” this year.

The whereabouts of Mr. Douri, whose demise was announced several times and [who] is wanted by U.S. forces, remains unknown.

AS-SAFIR (LEBANON)

Assad warns of attack on Iran

Syrian President Bashar Assad warned against launching a military attack on Iran over its nuclear program, saying it will have serious repercussions on the United States, Israel and the whole world.

He added that he did not discuss the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons in his meetings with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Suleiman, in Paris because he regards the issue as “an internal Lebanese matter linked to the peace process” in the Middle East.

AL-BAATH (SYRIA)

France visit affirms strategic status

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s historic visit to France, his talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his participation at the events in Paris received unprecedented attention.

Analysts say Mr. Assad’s political accomplishments during this visit affirm Syria’s strategic status on the regional and international fronts.

AL-KHALEEJ (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)

Assad ignores Olmert at Paris summit

Syrian President Bashar Assad completely ignored Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when he arrived at the Paris summit attended by 43 leaders, which was expected to witness the first friendly encounter between the Syrian and Israeli leaders.

Mr. Assad turned his head in the other direction when Mr. Olmert entered the conference hall, as the Syrian president made it clear it was too early for a handshake, an exchange or even a glance toward the Israeli prime minister.

AL-SABAH (IRAQ)

Military operation imminent in Diyala

The countdown has begun for a military operation in Diyala after security reinforcements arrived on the outskirts of the province.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced two weeks ago that Diyala will be the next stop to impose the rule of law, after Basra, Nineveh and Maysan.

AL-HAYAT (LONDON)

Maliki, Obama agree on withdrawal

Sen. Barack Obama concluded his second visit to Baghdad in an agreement with the Iraqi government on the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq by 2010, a date that drew sharp criticism from Mr. Obama’s Republican antagonist, [Sen.] John McCain.

After Mr. Obama, a Democrat, met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Baghdad is not interested in withdrawal plans based on a presidential campaign, but in a real time frame for withdrawal according to Iraqi wishes. He nevertheless added that the government agreed with Mr. Obama’s pledge to pull out by 2010.

Compiled by Sana Abdallah of the Middle East Times in Amman, Jordan.

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