INTRODUCTION United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim arrived in Damascus, Syria on Friday (4 February) on the second leg of his tour in search of ways to revive the Geneva Middle East peace conference, which has been stalled since 1973.
SCU Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam greeting United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim at Damascus airport
SV Waldheim walking across tarmac talking to newsmen
CU Sign "Ministry of Foreign Affairs" ZOOM OUT TO guard.
SV and CU Waldheim and Khaddam seated talking (4 shots)
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: During his tour Mr. Waldheim will also visit Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. As well as Mr. Vance from the United States, the West German and French foreign ministers are due to arrive in the Middle East soon and informed sources quoted by Reuters News agency in Amman said on Saturday (5 February) that an Arab mini-summit conference is expected to be held in Damascus in mid-March. It is understood that Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestine Liberation Organisation will take part. (Israel has always steadfastly refused to sit down to the conference table with the PLO, on the grounds that it is a terrorist organisation).
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Background: INTRODUCTION United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim arrived in Damascus, Syria on Friday (4 February) on the second leg of his tour in search of ways to revive the Geneva Middle East peace conference, which has been stalled since 1973.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Waldheim was greeted at Damascus airport by Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam after flying from Cairo. Mr. Khaddam had also been in Egypt the previous day to help co-ordinate the Arab position during Mr. Waldheim's visit, and the two met for further talks before the Secretary General Started discussions with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Other Middle East leaders attending meetings in Damascus include Lebanese President Elias Sarkis and King Hussein of Jordan.
Syria has been making efforts to co-ordinate the attitudes of the four Arab states in confrontation with Israel - Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan - and a reconciliation between King Hussein and Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat is also on the cards, although there is not as yet any official confirmation of a meeting between them. Mr. Waldheim will be followed to the Middle East by the new United States Secretary of State, Mr. Cyrus Vance.
According to Reuters News Agency, the Arabs are awaiting Mr. Vance's visit so they can assess how much pressure they can expect President
Carter's administration to put on Israel to come to the conference table. During his talks with Mr. Waldheim Foreign Minister Khaddam is understood to have pressed the point that the apparent new found Arab unity boosts the case for reconvening the Geneva conference as soon as possible.