Peres: Syria Signals Interest in Renewing Talks; Assad: Peace Negotiations Failed

Published January 17th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

Bashar al Assad, the Syrian president, has stated that the peace negotiations with Israel have failed in the past. Consequently, Syria does not want to spend ten more years in futile discussions with Israel. The Syrian leader made these comments on Tuesday during his recent meeting with a visiting American congress delegation.  


Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres said in an interview to the Kuwaiti daily A Rai Al Aam that Israel has recently received positive signs from Damascus indicating Syria’s interest to resume peace negotiations, which came to a halt two years ago.  


According to the daily, Peres said that Israel was willing to go back to the negotiating table with Syria, without any preconditions, on the basis of U.N. Security Council’s resolution 242 and 338. 


When asked about Syrian president Bashar al Assad, who took over after his late father Hafez, Peres said “He is a young President, but what’s important is not changing presidents, but changing policy”. 


The Syrian ruler is prepared to renew negotiations with Israel from the point at which they ended during the reign of his late father Hafez Assad, according to former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Israel Edward Djerejian. Djeriejian made these comments after a Tuesday night meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Sharon, according to Tel Aviv based HaAretz.  


Djerejian met earlier in the week with president Bashar al Assad. Up until now, the Syrian leader has opposed talks with Israel and has demanded that they be connected to the Palestinian issue.  


Djerejian, who currently heads the Baker Institute at Rice University in Texas, was recently appointed by Washington to promote an "alternative channel" of communication between the U.S. and Syria that would deal with ties between the two countries, economic interests and academic exchange.  


Djerejian told Sharon that in private conversations, al Assad does not use the heated rhetoric against Israel he frequently uses in public speeches.  


Sharon has also expressed willingness to resume talks with Syria without preconditions. However, in talks Wednesday with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique, Sharon stated, "Assad still demands conditions that are a cause for concern and he is not willing to give up the terror option." ( 

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