Syrian President Tells EU Envoy he Supports Renewing Peace Talks with Israel
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told the European Union's Middle East envoy that he supports steps aimed at relaunching peace talks with Israel, press reports said Thursday.
Assad, who met Wednesday with the EU's Miguel Angel Moratinos, told the envoy that Syria wants a "just and durable peace and wants to add its efforts to those (already) deployed to that end."
More specifically, he said Syria supports "any European effort aimed at relaunching the peace process," the reports said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday renewed an appeal to Assad to reach a "peace of the brave" with Israel.
New talks between the two countries, which resumed in December 1999 after being shelved for four years, did not continue as planned in February.
The sticking point is the strategic Golan Heights, which overlook the Sea of Galilee and northeastern Israel and which were captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
Syria demands that Israel return all the captured land, giving it access to the fresh water Sea of Galilee.
Israel has expressed willingness to return the Golan, but only wants to withdraw only to a 1923 border, which would give it the Sea of Galilee in its entirety.
In a commentary Thursday, the government daily Tishrin blamed Israel for the impasse in the talks with Syria and also accused the Jewish state of "blackmailing" the Palestinians in its peace talks with them.
"The peace process has not achieved the hoped for progress and, for many years, has moved in a vicious circle because of the stubbornness of Israeli leaders, who refuse to yield to UN resolutions (calling for withdrawal from lands captured in 1967) on the pretext of imaginary security concerns," it said.
"The Israelis, who froze negotiations with Syria, are now busy blackmailing the Palestinians," it went on. "They want incomplete solutions, which can never bring about peace." – DAMASCUS (AFP)
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