Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
Riad Daoudi has cancelled his visit to the US at the last minute. This is significant because he was the one Syrian official included on the agenda. The State Department said that it would meet with the three, but not in any official capacity only as private citizens. Sami Moubayed and Samir Taqi, the two other Syrians included in the original visit, are indeed civilians. Not so Daoudi.
Daoudi says that he needs to return to Ankara to pick up negotiations with Israel.
I wrote earlier that it seemed that Syria was being snubbed, but I am told this is wrong. I have erased it.
WASHINGTON (AFP)–A key official in a Syrian delegation scheduled to attend a private forum and possibly meet with U.S. officials in rare talks this week has canceled his trip, officials said Tuesday.
Riad Daoudi, Syrian lead negotiator with Israeli officials in Turkey and legal adviser to the Syrian foreign ministry, had been asked at the last minute to remain in Damascus for talks with a visiting Turkish delegation, sources said.
"Based on our information, Mr. Daoudi did not make the trip to Washington," Syrian embassy spokesman Ahmed Salkini told AFP. He didn't provide details.
But Ahmad Samir al-Taki, a consultant to the Syrian prime minister and director of the Orient Center for International Studies in Damascus, together with two others will attend the forum "Engaging Syria: new negotiations, old challenges" at Washington-based Brookings Institution on Wednesday.
Their visit is sponsored by Search for Common Ground, an international non- governmental organization, headquartered in Washington and Brussels, which had sought a meeting for them with the State Department.
State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos had said on Monday that Assistant Secretary of State David Welch, the pointman for Middle East affairs, was prepared to meet with them.
Syria is on a U.S. blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism.
But Gallegos stressed that they weren't official talks, as the Syrian team was here in "private capacity."
Still, the proposed meeting comes in the wake of a tactical shift in President George W. Bush administration's Middle East dealings following the participation of the State Department's No. 3 official, William Burns, in talks in Geneva last week over Iran's nuclear program.
Obama’s High-Powered Ride to the Airport
By Jeff Zeleny
AMMAN, Jordan — The king drove the senator to the airport.
After dinner at His Majesty’s palace tonight, known here as Beit Al Urdan, Senator Barack Obama was headed to catch a plane to Israel. So King Abdullah got behind the wheel of his dark-gray Mercedes Benz 600 Series, Mr. Obama hopped in the passenger’s seat and they headed through the streets to Jordan/Queen Alia International Airport.
The motorcade — unlike the United States, which contained more Mercedes than mini-vans — created a bit of a stir when it arrived on the dark tarmac. Reporters and photographers stood watch as King Abdullah stepped out of his door first, followed by Mr. Obama.
The two stood at the steps of the plane, talking for several moments before saying their farewells.
King Abdullah, who had been in Aspen, Colo., made a special trip back to Amman to see Mr. Obama tonight. He was waiting at the door of his home when the senator arrived. (Queen Ranie was said to be on hand, but was not seen by reporters.)
“Thank you so much,” Mr. Obama said as the king pumped his hand. The two had briefly met once on Capitol Hill, but had never shared a one-one-one meeting.
“Let’s make a photo opportunity,” Mr. Abdullah said, re-enacting their handshakes and smiling broadly for the cameras.
And so they did, repeating the scene one more time a few hours later in the shadow of the newly-painted Obama campaign plane.
Obama: Israeli Strike Against Syria Last Year "Appropriate"
22 Jul 2008 03:32 pm
More from an exclusive preview of Katie Couric's interview with Barack Obama:
Couric: If they reject negotiating– if they reject negotiations, how likely do you think a preemptive military strike by Israel against Iran may be?
Obama: I– I will not hypothesize on that. I think– Israel has a right to defend itself. But I will not speculate on– the– the difficult judgment that they would have to make– in a whole host of possible scenarios.
Couric: This is not a speculative question then. Was it appropriate, in your view, for Israel to take out that suspected Syrian nuclear site last year?
Obama: Yes. I think that there was sufficient evidence that they were developing– a site using a nuclear– or using a– a blueprint that was similar to the North Korean model. There was some concern as to what the rationale for that site would be. And, again, ultimately, I think these are decisions that the Israelis have to make. But– you know, the Israelis live in a very tough neighborhood where– a lot of folks– publicly– proclaim Israel as an enemy and then act on those proclamations. And– I think that– you know, it– it's important for– for me not to– you know, engage in speculation on what steps they need to take. What I can do is to provide leadership– so that the United States government hopefully doesn't get us into a position where– those decisions are so difficult. That's why applying tough diplomacy, direct diplomacy, and tough sanctions– where necessary is so important.
And, as Obama lands in Tel Aviv, he admits to Couric that his AIPAC pronouncement about an "undivided" Jerusalem was "poorly phrased" but insists that he did not change his policy.
Gulfsands, Emerald Energy Start Pumping Oil in Syria (Update1)
2008-07-22 (New York)
by Maher Chmaytelli
July 22 (Bloomberg) — Gulfsands Petroleum Plc and Emerald Energy Plc, two British explorers, started pumping oil yesterday at their Syrian joint venture, which may provide the biggest boost to the Arab nation's output in 20 years.
“The production of oil commenced at the Khurbet East Early Production Facility in Block 26'' in north-east Syria, according to a statement today from Gulfsands, operator of the concession.
Gulfsands aims to pump 40,000 barrels a day in 18 months, increasing Syria's production by 10 percent, company spokesman Kenneth Judge said yesterday. The venture's output, which will start at 10,000 barrels a day, may boost the country's production the most since the late 1980s, Executive Director Mahdi Sajjad said in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. Gulfsands didn't estimate initial output from the first well, KHE-4, in today's statement.
Syria is stepping up exploration to check a decline in crude output, which has dropped to 360,000 barrels a day from a peak of 600,000 barrels a day in 1996, according to the government. Its reserves of 3.2 billion barrels are expected to last 10 years, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The two London-based explorers, which each hold a 50 percentstake in the venture, must share any oil produced with the Syrian government, Emerald said today in a separate statement, citing the terms of the concession agreement.
lf sands announced last year the Khurbet East find in Block 26, Syria's largest exploration plot with an area of 8,250 square kilometers (3,185 square iles). The discovery was brought on stream five months ahead of schedule, boosting the shares of Gulfsands and Emerald yesterday by as much as 6.7 percent and 17 percent respectively.
“With production from Khurbet East having started well ahead of schedule, which will ramp up as we tie in additional wells, we look forward to further developing the other opportunities in Block 26 in what is a highly prospective and proven hydrocarbon system in Syria,'' Gulfsands Chairman Andrew
West said in the statement today.