Barak: Assad's Death Creates Potential for Change

Published June 16th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The transfer of power in Syria creates the potential for substantial regional change, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak said, hinting at the possibility of a renewal of Israeli-Syrian peace talks, reported The Associated Press Thursday.  

"This won't be the same Syria," Barak said, referring to the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad and the planned replacement by his son, Bashar, said AP.  

"If Bashar Assad consolidates his power, he will bring substantial economic, diplomatic and cultural improvements to Syria," Barak said.  

Barak made the comments, his most extensive since Assad's death Saturday, to an audience of retired defense officials Wednesday evening.  

He guardedly praised the late Syrian president as a man of his word, noting that Israel's border with Syria has been quiet since Assad signed a cease-fire agreement with Israel in 1973.  

Barak said Hafez Assad was also a cruel, uncompromising enemy who sponsored "murderous terror groups."  

The fact that he opened peace talks with Israel, however, "bequeathed to his son and to Syria the legitimacy to talk peace with Israel. This fact holds hope for the future."  

Syrian-Israeli peace talks broke down in January over the scope of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, occupied in 1967, according to the agency - 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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