Syria "refuses to recognize Kosovo"

BELGRADE -- Syria urges a political solution for the Balkans, and Damascus doesn't recognize Kosovo as an independent state, Syrian Ambassador to Serbia Majed Shadoud says.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić today that his country continues to oppose the recognition of the independence of Kosovo, as it did from the very beginning, Shadoud told Tanjug news agency in Belgrade on Wednesday.

"Syria urges a political solution for the situation in the Balkans and the Middle East and is opposed to any kind of divisions in both regions, regardless of whether religious, ethnic or nationalist reasons are in question," the ambassador quoted Al-Assad as telling Jeremić during their meeting in Damascus.

Tanjug learned from the Serbian Foreign Ministry that Jeremić and the Syrian officials discussed that country's support for the summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference, currently chaired by Syria, to prevent the adoption of a resolution in which Saudi Arabia plans to call on the Islamic countries to recognize the independence of Kosovo.

The summit will be held from May 23-25 in Damascus.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians declared the secession of the province over a year ago, but Belgrade rejected this unilateral proclamation as illegal.

Jeremić received the full support of the Syrian state leadership for Serbia's diplomatic efforts aimed a preserving the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Tanjug reported. In Damascus, Jeremić also discussed bilateral relations between Serbia and Syria, especially possibilities for the development of economic cooperation.

Shadoud told the news agency that Jeremić's visit to Syria was important for the two countries' relations "which, in the past, progressed significantly in the political, economic, scientific and trade spheres".

The top Syrian diplomat in Serbia set out that the two countries' mixed committee was revived, that an agreement on cooperation in the tourism sphere was signed and that economic delegations of Serbia and Syria signed a series of projects.

In Damascus, Jeremić also met with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa, parliament Speaker Mahmoud al Abrash and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallim.