The Right Honorable Lord Mayor of London 

Alderman Gavyn Arthur and Lady Mayoress Carole Blackshaw 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

On behalf of my wife, myself and the Syrian delegation, I would like to thank the Mayor and the Corporation of London for their kind invitation to be with you here this evening. It is a great pleasure for us to be with you in this historic building. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality that we have received in London. It is a delightful to be back in London, a city I know well, a city I lived in with its people and I worked as a doctor on one of its central hospitals, treating many of its patients. This daily interaction created a long lasting relationship, which I will always cherish. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Geographic distance between countries has never been an obstacle to creating fruitful relationships and throughout history we have established relations in different domains between our two counttries. The Phoenicians reached the British shores in 1100 B.C. and the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus, who is of Syrian origin, is buired in the city of York when both countries were part of the Roman Empire. I n the 16th century commercial relations flourished between Syria and Britain. An agreement signed with the Ottoman Empire, which included Syria at the time, allowed English traders to take residence in the Northern city of Aleppo and Syrian traders to take residence in Manchester. It is through this agreement that the great English poet, William Shakespeare, learned of Aleppo and mentioned it in his play, Othello.

Today our common interests are even greater and our priority should be to strengthen our bonds. As the world continues to develop and Information Communication Technology takes a larger an more significant role in our day today lives, we are increasingly able to expand our economic reach to far away lands. However the likelihood of being affected by troubles in other countries is also much higher. As we cannot hope for prosperity without a sound economy, we cannot expect a sound

economy without ensuring stability, not only internally or even regionally but globally. Here lies the importance of replacing reckless policies with rational policies to establish appropriate conditions to achieve peace which is not elusive, but real and enduring. This will increase investment opportunities and economic growth for all people. Thus we are unable to achieve sustainable economic growth without implementing good policies, and we cannot separate the politics of a country from its larger economic interests, that go even beyond its borders. 

In this context, Syria has started to implement a wide ranging program of sustainable development and reform, as  well as seeking to achieve just and comprehensive peace in the region and in the world at large based on UN resolutions. In our program, in Syria, we focus on banking sector, fiscal policies, information technology, human resources, training in all fields and education at all levels. There is no doubt that Britain has made great strides in various sectors especially in finance and technology and geopolitics. We admire your achievements and hope to continue  to benefit from your experiences in the development of Syria. I think that the transfer of knowledge is the responsibility of developed countries towards the rest of the world. The visit to  Syria by Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a big boost to the relations

between our two countries. In the field of higher education and scientific research, the cooperation between Syria and Britain encompasses the creation of an IT strategy in Syria. This is a field where we will be looking for further cooperation with Britain, specifically in the areas of environmental studies, business management, biotechnology and economics. I also hope that this visit will give us an opportunity to explore means of developing economic relations in different sectors; encouraging investments and trade, establishing a joint council for businessmen and businesswomen and strengthening contacts between the chambers of commerce and industry in Syria and Britain. 

The Right Honorable Lord Mayor and Gentlemen, 

I am confident that relations of friendship and cooperation between Syria and Britain will further flourish in the years ahead. I thank you again for this memorable evening and wish you all as well as the British people prosperity and happiness.