Assad Says No Terrorism Problem with Turkey

ALEXANDRIA (Reuter)–Syrian President Hafez al-Assad said last week that there was "no problem" between his country and Turkey over terrorism and that Damascus was not involved in Ankara’s internal affairs.

"They are saying that there is a problem of terrorism that exists between Syria and Turkey but there is no such problem. There is an internal problem in Turkey and Syria is not part of this," Assad said in a news conference.

"We tried to help as much as we can to ease the problems that occur inside Turkey. But neither Syria nor anyone can ever solve such huge problems for Turkey. This is a chronic problem," he said.

"Even though we don’t have good relations–we really don’t want any neighboring countries to suffer. No one wants Syria to act as a policeman for Turkey. If we can help–we will but we can’t do anything more," Assad said.

He was speaking after talks in Alexandria with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Syria and Turkey’s ties have been tense. Damascus recently expressed astonishment over Turkey’s increased military cooperation with Israel. Damascus and the Jewish state have broken off peace negotiations.

Turkey and Israel are due to hold search and rescue exercises in November under the military deal–seen as a strategic blow to Turkey’s neighbors Syria and Iran–which Ankara accuses of sponsoring Kurdish separatist rebels in its southeaster border regions.

Mubarak had held talks with Turkey’s President Suleyman Demirel in the Mediterannean city earlier in the week.

He said that he would discuss Turkey with Assad–and that he was concerned there should be peace.

Assad said–"We are actually being harmed by what is happening there but unfortunately–especially recently–Turkey has been asking Syria to stop what is going on in Turkey."

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