Damascus/Sí£o Paulo (Brazil) Direct, Courtesy of Syria

Syria is planning to offer a flight between the city of São Paulo, in southeast Brazil, and Damascus, the capital of Syria. The information was disclosed by Syrian minister of Information Mohsen Bilal.

The minister is visiting Brazil and gave an interview during a reception held by the Syrian Embassy in Brazilian capital Brasí­lia on January 22.

According to him, the project of creating a flight connecting Damascus, São Paulo and Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, will be carried out soon after the implementation of another route, connecting Tehran, in Iran, Damascus and Caracas, in Venezuela, scheduled for February.

The Syrian minister highlighted the importance of South-South cooperation between developing countries in fields such as education, energy, transportation, media and communication, oil and natural gas.

He mentioned, for instance, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's initiative of promoting the Summit of South American – Arab Countries, a gathering of heads of state from both regions, held in May 2005 in Brazil. According to Mohsen, the Syrian people also have fond memories of the visit Lula paid to the Arab country in 2003.

On Monday afternoon, the Syrian minister met with president Lula. According to Mohsen, during the meeting, Lula invited the Syrian president, Bashar Al-Assad, to visit Brazil this year.

The minister also passed on messages from the Syrian president to Lula, including congratulations on his re-election. The Brazilian president, said Mohsen, thanked Syria for helping remove Brazilians who were in Lebanon during the attacks that took place last year.

Minister Mohsen is an advocate of South-South cooperation. He also claimed that TeleSur, a Latin American television network based in Caracas, Venezuela, is available to be used to promote cooperation between developing countries.

The network began operating in October 2005 with the objective of promoting Latin American integration, and is financed by funds from Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba.

Syria already has an intense trade relationship with several countries in Latin America. The minister called attention to the fact that his country exports olive oil to Venezuela.

On Monday, Mohsen also delivered to the president of the Brazilian House of Representatives, Aldo Rebelo, an invitation from the Syrian Parliament to visit the Arab country.

Rebelo and the minister, who met after Mohsen's meeting with Lula, discussed the role of the Syrian community in Brazil, comprised of five million people.

Mohsen is the Syrian minister of Information since last year. Prior to that, from 2001 until 2006, he was the Syrian ambassador in Spain. Before becoming involved in diplomacy and government, Mohsen had a political career as member of the House of Representatives.

He was in the House from 1977 until 1985, and headed the Arab and Foreign Relations Committee of the Syrian Parliament between 1981 and 1985. Mohsen speaks fluent English, Spanish and Italian.

The minister holds an M.D. from the University of Padova, Italy, where he specialized in surgery. He also holds a Ph.D. in liver transplant from the University of Pennsylvania, in the United States, was head of the Surgery Department at the University of Damascus, and of the Al-Assad University Hospital.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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