Syria Says Does not Want Confrontation with Turkey

DAMASCUS (Reuters)–Syria said on Thursday it did not want any confrontation with Turkey but warned Ankara that it would be risking its ties with Arab states if it continued its military cooperation with Israel.

"We renew our assurance that we do not want any confrontation with Turkey. Instead we have been exerting every effort to preserve good relations between our peoples," Syria’s Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas was quoted by the Syrian News Agency as saying.

"Tlas highlighted the suspicious alliance between Israel and leaders of Turkey and the dangers that this alliance would inflict on relations between Turkey and the Arab nation," Tlas added in a speech to graduates from Syria’s military college.

A Turkish-Israeli military agreement–signed in 1996– was among issues tackled at summit meetings of the 55-member Organization of the Islamic Conference–due to end on Thursday.

Several Arab countries–particularly Syria–are deeply concerned by Turkey’s ties with Israel which they condemn for blocking Middle East peace efforts.

Turkish Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahat Andican said on the sidelines of the summit in Tehran that the agreement was between Turkey and Israel and that it was not against any other Islamic country.

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