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Damascus is ready to resume peace talks with Jerusalem, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday, stressing that there was national support in his country for the negotiations.
"As far as it concerns us in Syria we have national support to continue talks with Israel," Assad said in Zagreb after meeting Croatian President Stipe Mesic. "However, there is a condition that on the Israeli side we also have those who want to continue the negotiations."
Assad hailed Turkey for its recent mediation efforts and said a "third side" would be necessary for the talks to restart.
"We call on European countries to also give their contribution, to help Turkey but also us to be able to resume from where we have stopped," he added.
The Turkish-mediated negotiations have been frozen since the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter.
Mesic said that the talks should resume and the "Golan (Heights) be brought back under Syrian sovereignty"
"Security for Israel should be also guaranteed," he emphasized.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to Assad's comments with cautious optimism.
"Peace with Syria is a central block in any stable regional settlement. Israel has searched in the past and will continue to search in the future for ways to advance peace with Syria," said Barak in a statement released by the Defense Ministry.
"Nonetheless, what is required is responsible leadership from Syria and also from Hizbullah to prevent a deterioration in the region."