Barak: too Early to Expect Move from Bashar

Published June 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, said on Wednesday that it is "too early" to be sending out any messages to Syria's Bashar Assad, or to expect any word from Damascus, reported the Jerusalem Post.  

"I think it is too early at this stage, mere days after the funeral of Hafez Assad and when his heir is still only a candidate for the presidency," said Barak.  

Justice minister, Yossi Beilin, however, sent out his own message of sorts, saying that "Bashar Assad needs to know that there is a government in Israel that wants peace and is ready to pay the price of that peace. We should not miss the opportunity."  

Uri Saguy, who headed the Israeli negotiating team to the last round of talks with the Syrians in Shepherdstown in January, was quoted as saying that returning to the negotiating table was in the Syrians' interest, and voiced his hope that Assad would recognize this.  

"I am not caught up in a concept, and I am not living in a dream, but I do think there is room for guarded optimism with regard to future talks," said Saguy.  

Saguy said that for Syria to achieve such goals as retrieving the Golan Heights, bettering its strategic relations with the West, and keeping some modicum of power in Lebanon it would do well to re-enter talks with Israel.  

Saguy compared Israel and Syria to an older couple thinking about marriage, said the paper.  

"They might need a prenuptial agreement," he said, positing that agreements on water, land, security and the like would have to be worked out so that if the sides parted, each would know what it had the right to keep.  

"But rationally speaking they - and we - have reason to return to the diplomatic platform," he said - 


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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