By Nabil Al Mulhem
Syria is ready to resume peace talks with Israel "at any time" but is sticking to its condition that they be based on the June 4th, 1967 ceasefire line, Foreign Minister Farouq Shara said Friday at a joint presser with UN chief Kofi Annan. "Syria is ready and continues to be ready" for negotiations, Shara said, “if Israel is ready, too, to resume talks on the basis of the June 4th, 1967 ceasefire line "on which we cannot compromise," he said at the conference held at Damascus Airport.
Peace negotiations on the Syrian-Israeli track came to a halt last December as Israel declined to withdraw to the ceasefire line, according to UN resolutions. Shara quoted Bashar Assad, Syria’s heir apparent, as telling Annan at their Thursday meeting “Syria is ready to make peace.”
According to the veteran foreign minister, Bashar had told UN’s top man that “there are well established institutions in Syria that guarantee continuity of the country’s policies, and accordingly “there is no need for the peace process to stop, provided that firm and positive proposals are offered.”
Shara recalled that when he met US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Cairo, shortly before Syrian president Hafez Assad passed away on June 10, that she insisted Israel and Syria move beyond the failed March summit in which US President Bill Clinton met Assad I a bid to revamp talks with Israel.
Asked if Syria is a stopover during Albright’s upcoming tour of the region, Shara said there is no official decision over that so far.
For his part, Annan said, “In my capacity as secretary general of the UN, I am concerned with the implementation of all UN resolutions related to the region, and we should not stop.”
The head of the international organization was referring to resolutions 242 and 383 that call for a just and comprehensive peace on the principle of peace for land.
Regarding the Israeli pullback from south Lebanon, Annan said that UN cartographers have drawn the “Blue Line” that was based on documents held by the UN, Washington, Paris and Beirut, including the 1923 agreement between France and the UK, and the 1949 truce line.
The secretary general confirmed that the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon was complete, adding that “the UN and Lebanon are in full agreement, and there is no possibility that they differ [on verification of borders.]”
However, the UN chief said that the committee charged with verification will watch over any violations and report them on a weekly basis, starting Sunday.
Shara reiterated Syria’s support of Lebanon’s demand “of a complete Israeli pullout to the internationally recognized lines.” – Albawaba.com
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