If Syrian President Hafez Assad is interested in peace, he must go to the White House because he gave a negative answer to US President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday.
He was responding to a question on Israel Radio about renewed indications of peace on the part of Damascus.
Referring to an interview of Assad's son, Bashar, published in the Arab Al-Wassat weekly Monday, the Israeli premier said "The door is only slightly ajar and I am not optimistic," Barak told Israeli public radio.
"But I have heard the remarks from Bashar al-Assad in the last few days, saying Syria is interested in renewing negotiations. If that is the case, the address to write to is: President Clinton, White House, USA. He was the one who got the negative response from Assad, and if there has been a change of heart, it would seem like a good idea that he should be the first to hear it," Barak said.
Bashar, who is apparently being groomed to take the reins of power in Syria, said in his interview that the door was still open "because efforts (to restart direct peace talks) are still ongoing."
The collapse of Israeli-Syrian talks, which fell apart in January, "hurts the region as well as the interests of the countries touched by the (Israeli-Arab) conflict," he said.
"Some people believed that the meeting would establish peace and said the summit was the last chance. But that was a mistake," he added, referring to a meeting between his father and Clinton in Geneva on March 26, which ended without agreement on a resumption of talks.
"The summit was an important step toward peace and allowed the clarification of a number of issues, including Syria's refusal to give up its territory," he said.
SYRIA: ISRAEL SHOULD RESPECT ALL UN RESOLUTIONS, IN ADDITION TO 425
Israel must respect all UN resolutions concerning the Middle East, not just Resolution 425 on the withdrawal from Lebanon, the head of Syria's official SANA news agency Fayez Sayegh said in a newspaper article published Wednesday.
"The side (Israeli) that says it wants to apply Resolution 425, 20 years after it was passed should also say it accepts Resolutions 242 and 338, as its selectivity raises doubts and hides Israeli maneuvering," he said in an article in the Ath-Thawra official daily.
UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 call for Israel's withdrawal from lands seized in 1967.
"Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon should be part of its pullout from the territory taken in 1967," he added, calling on Israel to "return the occupied territory in return for peace."
Sayegh said Israel's announcement that it will abide by Resolution 425 "has got nothing to do with peace, nor security. On the contrary, the pullout hides an Israeli desire to cause havoc" in the region – (Several Sources)
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