Report: Assad seeks to renew talks with Israel
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad wishes to renew peace talks with Israel, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Tuesday.
According to the paper, Assad made the statement while talking to a U.S. delegation that included Congressperson Darryl Eisa (of Lebanese background), and former ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyck and former ambassador to Morocco, Edward Gabriel.
Furthermore, Assad said, "I am ready to renew peace talks if Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is ready for this."
According to Al Hayat, the Syrian leader told the Americans, "We are ready to resume peace talks with Israel over the Golan if Sharon is ready and if there are clear U.S. guarantees regarding the seriousness of the negotiations and their practical outcome."
Assad also said the recent U.S. "escalation" against Syria over its presence in Lebanon was not logical.
"I am interested to know the U.S. motives behind this", he told his American visitors, and added, "I think this is not logical at a time when Syria is willing to cooperate with the U.S. in Iraq."
Meanwhile, U.N. special Mideast envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said Tuesday in response to the report in Al-Hayat that he believes in the sincerity of Assad's statement.
"Over the past year I had met with Assad on several occasions. My impression is that he is clearly interested in going to the negotiation table for talks with Israel," Lasen said in an interview with Army Radio.
Larsen added that both Israel and Syria have made mistakes, which prevented the two countries from reaching peace.
"It would not be productive to criticize one side," Larsen said, adding, "I think there is a true opportunity today that should be taken." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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