ISLAMABAD, Aug 15: Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara called on President Gen Pervez Musharraf here on Thursday with a special message from the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

The Syrian deputy prime minister, and his seven-member delegation, arrived here on Wednesday from New Delhi. His visit to the region as the special envoy of the Syrian president is aimed at defusing tension between the two South Asian neighbours.

President Musharraf appreciated President Al-Assad’s gesture and thanked him for his concern and sincere friendship, ministry of foreign affairs said in an official statement issued here on Thursday.

In June, President Musharraf had sent his special envoy to Damascus to brief the Syrian leaders on the standoff with India and the need for military de-escalation and dialogue.

The president briefed the Syrian envoy on the current situation in the region, underlining the centrality of the Kashmir dispute, ministry of foreign affairs said. The president emphasized that “any move aimed at sidelining the Kashmir issue would not be acceptable.”

The Syrian deputy PM apprised President Musharraf of his talks with the Indian leadership.

The president assured the visiting dignitary that Pakistan would not initiate a conflict with India, but made it clear that Pakistan would defend its territory, honour and dignity with full might if a war is imposed on it.

President Musharraf also warned the special envoy of the dangers posed to the entire Muslim world by the Indo-Israel nexus and stressed the need for the Muslim Ummah to take unified and concrete steps. The situation prevailing in the Middle East and the challenges confronting the Muslim and the Arab world also figured in their discussions.

President Musharraf’s visit to Syria in January last year resulted in the enhancement of cooperation between the two countries.

The Syrian president’s special envoy also held talks with the minister of state for foreign affairs, Inamul Haq, who briefed him on the Afghan situation, besides discussing the Middle East and other international issues of mutual concern. Both agreed that there was need for fresh initiatives to strengthen bilateral ties between Syria and Pakistan.

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