Damascus Welcomes End of 'Misunderstanding' with US

Published June 8th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Syria's official press said Thursday misunderstandings with the United States had been cleared up by the meeting Wednesday in Cairo between its foreign minister Faruq al-Shara and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. 

"The Cairo meeting, suggested by Madeleine Albright, is a serious attempt to repair damage and clear up misunderstandings between the US and Syria on the peace process from the summit between Presidents Bill Clinton and Hafez al-Assad" March 26 in Geneva, according to the Ath-Thawra daily. 

The paper of the ruling Baath party said the "meeting is important as it comes several months after the Geneva summit which sounded the closing bell on the American role in the peace process on the Israeli-Syrian track."  

The two papers echoed comments by Shara who described his Cairo meeting with Albright as "constructive and positive .. allowing many misunderstandings (between the US and Syria) to be cleared up, particularly around the Geneva summit." 

Al-Baath and another official daily, Tishrin, also said Syria had at no time closed the door on the peace process and "never refused to cooperate with all efforts and mediation, while Israel rejected international initiatives to establish peace." 

"On every occasion there is a hold-up on one of the tracks, the responsibility is Israel's, and if the door to negotiations remains open it is thanks to Syria, not Israel," Al-Baath said. 

However the paper criticized the uneven approach of the United States as joint sponsor of the Middle East peace process. 

"The United States talks too much about peace, the role of honest broker and the rights of peoples to independence and freedom but does not think twice about pursuing an uneven policy and aligning itself with Israel," it said. 

After his talks with Albright, Shara also raised the possibility of a resumption of peace negotiations with Israel. 

"From the American viewpoint -- and we have no objection on this -- there is still a chance to resume the Israeli-Syrian negotiations," he said. 

"And President Bill Clinton will pursue this process until the end of his term in 2001," Shara told a press conference. 

The talks have been frozen since January amid deadlock over the extent of Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights it occupied from Syria in 1967 -- DAMASCUS (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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