Syrian envoy seeks wider role for Japan

Japan should assume a larger role in Iraq’s reconstruction and the stalled Mideast peace process, Syrian Ambassador to Japan Kahtan Syoufi said Monday.

Syoufi cited Japan’s economic prowess and historically amicable relations with the Arab world. He said Syria understands the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq for humanitarian assistance.

The United States should lift the sanctions it imposed on his country on May 11, the ambassador said during a courtesy call at The Japan Times. The sanctions were imposed due to Syria’s alleged support of terrorist organizations in the Middle East and lack of cooperation in preventing foreign terrorists from infiltrating Iraq.

The U.S. sanctions are “unbalanced and unjust,” and contradict international law, Syoufi said.

He denied terrorists are using the Syria-Iraq border to enter Iraq. He said Damascus is seeking U.S. help to control the border with high-tech equipment.

Syria believes constructive dialogue is the best way to ensure comprehensive peace in the Mideast, he said.

He said Syria “will continue constructive dialogue with the U.S.,” and urged Tokyo to help in this process because it has “special links” with Washington.

Syoufi said Israel should respect U.N. Security Council resolutions related to the Palestinian issue, including Resolution 242, which calls for Israel to withdraw from areas occupied in the 1967 war.

“The peace process is very important to fight terrorism,” he said.