Assad pledges to follow father's line

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The Independent Online

On his first day as President, Bashar Assad pledged yesterday to continue his late father's policies, not to make territorial concessions to Israel and to improve the lives of Syrians by revitalising the economy, reforming the administration and eliminating corruption.

On his first day as President, Bashar Assad pledged yesterday to continue his late father's policies, not to make territorial concessions to Israel and to improve the lives of Syrians by revitalising the economy, reforming the administration and eliminating corruption.

Mr Assad rejected Western-style democracy. "We cannot apply the democracy of others on ourselves," he said. "We have to have our democratic experience which is special to us, which stems from our history, culture, civilisation and which is a response to the needs of our society and the requirements of our reality. The political strategy which [Hafez Assad] devised and supervised ... proved a great success."

He said restoration of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967, "is at the top of our national priorities" and urged the US "to play its full role as an honest broker and a co-sponsor" of Israeli-Syrian peace talks. Syria's 16th President was elected unopposed for a seven-year term.

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