Assad: Syria Will Recognize Israel When Peace Comes
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that his country would recognize the state of Israel when a fair and global peace was installed in the Middle East, according to a report by The Associated Press Published Friday by Haaretz online edition.
In a live interview from Syria with France-2 television, Assad also said that the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon was temporary.
"In Syria, as in all the region and like all Arab people, we want peace and we talk about it every day," he said.
"I've said it clearly, when there is a global and fair peace that restores everyone's rights in the region, the recognition [of Israel] will become natural," he said.
"That means that there could be normal and natural relations like those that exist between two states, between two peoples," he added.
Assad also said that the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon was temporary. Between 20,000 and 30,000 Syrian troops have been posted in Lebanon since 1976, but earlier this month Syria withdrew most of its troops from the capital Beirut.
Meanwhile, Syria hit back Wednesday at an Israeli message to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime of anti-Semitism, saying that Assad respects all major religions.
Syria "respects all religions and refuses to fall into the trap of confusing Judaism, a monotheist religion, and Zionism, a political and ideological movement," said Syria's interim charge d'affaires to the UN, Faisal Makdad, in a statement published in Syrian newspapers, cited by AFP.
"Israel must cease accusing Arabs of anti-Semitism, because Arabs, themselves, are Semites," he said.
"Anti-Semitism is an accusation that Israel is all too ready to bring against all those who dare question its respect for international law, the UN charter, and the principles of human rights."
The Syrian statement was an answer to the Israeli delegation at the UN accusing Assad of anti-Semitism during Pope John Paul II's trip to Damascus last month, the press said – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)