Britain and Syria cancelled a planned joint press conference of their foreign ministers in London today as the fall-out continued over an American military raid into Syrian territory that left eight civilians dead.
The attack threatens to overshadow what was a long-planned visit to London by Walid Muallem, the Syrian Foreign Minister, aimed at repairing the two countries’ rocky relationship under the leadership of Tony Blair.
Damascus has been incensed by the attack, which Washington has yet to comment on. David Miliband had hoped to capitalise on Syria’s desire for stronger ties with the West to persuade it towards a more active role in the search for Middle Eastern peace. But talks today will inevitably be dominated by Syrian protest over the American military action.
A statement from the Foreign Office said that British and Syrian officials “have agreed that it would not be appropriate to hold a formal press conference as planned.” The Syrian Embassy, however, confirmed that Mr Muallem would go ahead with a solo briefing at which he was expected to denounce the incursion.
Syria has protested vigorously about last night’s raid, claiming that four children were among the eight to die after four military helicopters landed at sunset near al-Sukkari farm, five miles inside the Syrian border.
Sami al-Khiyami, the Syrian ambassador to London, said. “This is an outrageous raid which is against international law. It is a terrible crime.” He said that Syria was waiting for “clairifications from the Americans” before deciding whether to lodge a complaint at the United Nations Security Council.
via the Times of London: British talks with Syria in disarray after US military raid
CNN reports that the US is still investigating what happened and neither confirms nor denies the attack.