Journalist close to Egyptian President: Assad ready to re-start peace talks with Israel from scratch
Syria's President Bashar Assad was ready to re-start peace talks with Israel from scratch but Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon set several preconditions, a veteran Egyptian journalist close to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was quoted Wednesday by IslamOnline.net.
Makram Mohammad Ahmad, the editor-in-chief of the semi-government Al-Muswar weekly, said Assad had told Mubarak during his latest visit to Cairo in December about his new position, provided that it would lead to a just peace.
Syria had for long insisted on reviving parlays with Israeli from the point at which they broke off three years ago.
Mubarak conveyed the message to U.S. Middle East special envoy William Burns and Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon, said the journalist, adding Sharon did not respond positively.
Instead, Sharon raised the demand that Assad should first stop backing Hizbullah, and Palestinian resistance factions.
Ahmad added Cairo is stepping up shuttle diplomacy to prove that Sharon is "solely" responsible for the impasse on both the Syrian and the Palestinian tracks. "Egypt and Saudi Arabia have no doubts now that no peace can be reached while Sharon is in office," added Ahmed, the former chairman of Egypt's Journalists Syndicate.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)