CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Syrian Ambassador Discusses Vote on Iraq
Aired November 8, 2002 - 12:24 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Syria was expected to abstain from the U.N. Security Council vote but instead joined the 14 other members in approving the resolution.
Joining us now is Syria's acting U.N. Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us. Why did your government decide to support this resolution?
FAYSSAL MEKDAD, SYRIAN ACTING AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I don't think it should be very strange for Syria to support international consensus and legitimacy. We supported this on Iraq and we supported this on the implementation of different U.N. resolutions on the Palestinian issue and on the Arab-Israeli conflict in general.
BLITZER: Do you believe -- do you believe, Mr. Ambassador, the Iraqi government of President Saddam Hussein will comply with this new U.N. Security Council resolution?
MEKDAD: Wolf, all of us know that -- I mean during the last month and more, Iraq has expressed its willingness to cooperate with the United Nations' inspectors and had warmly welcomed the return of the inspectors to Iraq. And on 16 September, it sent official communication to the Security Council confirming their readiness to fully unconditionally cooperate with the council and its resolutions.
BLITZER: So you fully expect that once those inspectors go into Iraq they'll have open access, even to those most sensitive sites that were previously restricted?
MEKDAD: This was very clearly, without any vagueness, expressed in the Iraqi letter, and they have confirmed it once and again during the past few weeks.
BLITZER: Syria is, as you well know, the only Arab nation on the U.N. Security Council right now. Was your vote, could we say -- could we assume that the vote that you had in favor of this resolution represents a consensus in the Arab world?
MEKDAD: I am -- I haven't followed yet the reactions in the Arab world. What I know is that in the Arab world they don't war -- they don't want war against Iraq. They want to solve the issue in peaceful ways and means. They want to solve all other problems in the region, including the Israeli-Arab conflict on the basis of U.N. Security Council resolutions. They want to preserve the unity, integrity and territorial integrity of Iraq. So with this understanding, we have voted yes for the resolution and we hope that all provisions of this resolution are going to be respected by all parties.
BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, as you well remember and our viewers remember, Syria was a key coalition partner with the United States and the other allies 12 years ago, 11 years ago during the first Gulf War in trying to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation. If the Iraqis this time don't comply and the U.S. tries to put together a coalition to force -- forcefully -- try to forcefully disarm the Iraqis, will Syria be part of that coalition once again?
MEKDAD: At the beginning of your comment you have said that Syria was in the coalition to liberate Kuwait. This shows how much principled Syria is.
As far as for the present situation, it is our hope and it is our confidence that there is going to be cooperation on the part of Iraq. This cooperation was expressed several times. And it is our strong hope that no war will flare up in the Middle East. The Middle East has enough problems, enough wars, enough conflicts, enough sufferings, and we hope that all problems will be solved by a peaceful means.
BLITZER: We don't -- we don't have a lot of time left, Mr. Ambassador, but while I have you, there have been reports out there that since 9/11 Syria has cooperated with the U.S. in the war against terror, especially looking for al-Qaeda terrorists around the world. Is that accurate? Is that fair to say that?
MEKDAD: In fact, we are cooperating with the international community, whether in the United Nations, whether on bilateral levels, with different states for the elimination of terrorism. This shows that we are against terrorism, we are working with everybody against terrorism. And I mean the war against terrorism is an international war to which Syria is committed.
BLITZER: Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations, Fayssal Mekdad. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, for joining us on this very important day.
MEKDAD: Thank you.
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