Syria yields ground over abducted Dutch children
15 November 2006, AMSTERDAM — Syria has made "an important about-face" in the kidnapping drama involving two Dutch children confined to the Netherlands' embassy in Damascus.
15 November 2006
AMSTERDAM — Syria has made "an important about-face" in the kidnapping drama involving two Dutch children confined to the Netherlands' embassy in Damascus.
Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said the Syrian government appears prepared to push aside the interests of the father, who kidnapped his daughter and son two years ago.
It means the reunification of Sara and Ammar with their Dutch mother Janneke Schoonhoven is imminent, newspaper 'De Volkskrant' reported on Wednesday.
But Schoonhoven remains wary: "Initially, I'd hoped for Sunday when my parents celebrate their wedding anniversary. That would have been a nice present".
"Now I'm aiming for Christmas so that after three years we can finally sit around the tree together," she said.
The children were taken to Syria two years ago by their father without the mother's knowledge.
The 10-year-old Sara and 12-year-old Ammar fled to the Dutch embassy in Damascus at the end of June in the hope they could return home to Oude Pekela.
But the father — supported by Syria — had been able to prevent that up until now.
However, negotiations conducted by a Dutch envoy appointed by Bot has eroded that support. "The Dutch and Syrian governments are now looking together for a solution," he said last week.
But the Christian Democrat CDA minister is also cautious, stressing that in countries such as Syria, the door could be open one day and slammed shut the next.
According to Schoonhoven, her children are doing well despite their six month stay at the Dutch embassy. "They can go to school, they can play sport ... but homesickness is getting stronger, of course," she said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news