Report: Bush, Rice won't address Golan issue

Syrian daily says Damascus attending Annapolis summit to gauge the US's commitment to peace.

Abbas Mecca 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas Mecca 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Neither US President George W. Bush nor Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will mention Syria or the future of the Golan Heights in their speeches Tuesday, Channel 10 quoted a State Department official as saying Monday. However, the official said, Syria's delegate to the parley, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad, would be permitted to address the Golan issue if he wished. The report comes after an editorial in the Syrian daily Tishrin published Monday declared that Syria would " attend the Annapolis conference in order to examine the US's commitment to peace." According to the writer, the Syrians are pessimistic because of the Americans' past history. "Syria agreed to attend the Annapolis conference but it is not naïve. [Syria] knows Israel does not want peace and is responsible for the seven-year hiatus in the peace process." "Going to Annapolis, Syria takes into consideration that the Palestinian issue is the fundamental issue on the way to achieving peace, security, and stability in the region, and also that true peace requires the return of all occupied Arab territories; Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian." "Syria will be part of the consensus which aims to force Israel to follow International and Arab principles for peace, and to foil [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's plan to force Arab countries to recognize Israel as a Jewish state," the article read. "Syria and the entire Arab world knows that Olmert is trying to force the whole world to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and to obtain normalization without receiving anything in return. Will the Arab consensus be able to block Olmert's aspirations and bring a total and just peace?" Also on Monday, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi quoted Arab diplomatic sources as saying that Saudi pressure prompted Syria's announcement that it will be participating in the Annapolis peace conference. According to the report, despite their weak ties with Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan insisted that the Golan Heights be on the parley's agenda. The Saudis headed the group of nations which requested that Washington soften its approach to Syria, the sources said, adding that one of Syria's motives in attending was to slacken US pressure on Damascus. Herb Keinon and AP contributed to this report.