Syria expert: Assad overtures serious

British journalist Patrick Seale says Syrian president fears Mideast anarchy.

December 31, 2006 14:24
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British journalist Patrick Seale, who wrote the biography of former Syrian President Hafiz al Assad, father of current President Bashar Assad, said Sunday morning that the latest Syrian peace overtures toward Israel were serious. Seale, who is close to the Syrian regime, told Israel Radio in an interview that Assad wants a diplomatic pact because he fears the anarchy in the Middle East, which he believes has been caused by the failure of US policy. Earlier this month, Damascus came out with an offer to renew peace negotiations with Israel after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told The Washington Post that his country was willing to hold talks without preconditions. Israeli security officials have differed on whether or not the Syrian offer was sincere. Seale said that the Syrians' readiness to renew negotiations without preconditions meant an interest in starting talks from where they left off during former prime minister Ehud Barak's government. He also cautioned that Israel should not think peace with Damascus would distance Syria from Iran, since the two countries have had good relations since the early days of the Islamic uprising.

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