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Syria could resort to armed resistance if peace negotiations fail to make Israel give back the Golan Heights, the Syrian Information Minister said Sunday.
Mohsen Bilal said international negotiations should lead to Israel restituting the occupied Golan Heights territory it took from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed.
He warned that Syria could otherwise resolve to "other means, which struggling people have used at various points in history, beginning with legitimate resistance."
But Bilal stated that Syrians were nonetheless eager to resume talks. "The road for peace and stability in the region and the world goes through ending occupation" of the Golan Heights, he said, opening a three-day media forum geared at highlighting Syria's right to the Golan.
On Sunday, Syrian President Bashar Assad, who was meeting with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, called for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Assad and Moussa stressed the need to "establish security and stability in the region by reaching a comprehensive and just peace," Syria's official news agency SANA reported.
Israel has brushed off Assad's previous calls to restart peace talks, saying Syria must first clamp down on the radical Palestinian groups it hosts.
The three-day Syrian forum on the Golan was being held in the war-wrecked town of Kuneitra, just across the border from the territory controlled by Israel. Some 300 media people and human rights activists from 30 Arab and foreign countries were participating, organizers said.
Kuneitra, which lies 65 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of Damascus, was destroyed in 1967 and returned by Israel to Syria as part of a negotiated disengagement after the 1973 war.
Syria keeps the town in the state it found it as a testimony to the occupation of the Golan.