Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said in an interview with the Washington Post, published on Saturday, that the returning of the Golan Heights to Syrian hands would not be a precondition of any peace talks with Israel.
"There are no preconditions," Moallem told the newspaper. "A constructive dialogue has to start without preconditions. Dialogue has a literature (of proper procedure). You don't put demands. You put agreed goals. Under this, you put each side's commitment to achieve the goals in a parallel way," he said.
Moallem did not mention in the interview the traditional Syrian stance that peace talks with Israel must begin at the same point they left off in the past.
Moallem said that during the negotiations in the early nintees with the late Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin, 90 percent of the issues had been settled. However, there had been, on Israel's part, a lack of the political required to achieve the "noble goal."
Moallem told the Washington Post that peace between Israel and Syria would secure Israel's northern border, because it would include peace with Lebanon and the Palestinians. Moallem called on the U.S. to allow Israel to advance towards peace with Syria, adding that in the past it had not been an American priority.
Moallem added that should peace not be achieved, the region would collapse under the weight of religious civil wars and the rule of extremists.