Syria ready to discuss land for peace

Deputy FM stresses Syria's determination to regain the Golan Heights.

golan mine field 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
golan mine field 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous stated Tuesday that Damascus was willing to join Israel at the negotiating table. His statement comes only a few days after sources around Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed the existence of a secret track between Israel and Syria. "Syria is prepared to renew talks based upon the land for peace principle, without preconditions, to bring about stability and security in the region," Arnous said. The Syrian diplomat, who made the statement following a Damascus meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, also said that Syria was determined to regain the Golan. "President Assad is perfectly straightforward regarding Syria's aspirations to renew negotiations based on the rubrics of the Madrid Conference," he said. Transportation Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz confirmed on June 9 that the government had sent messages to Syria over the possibility of renewing peace talks, but did not reveal any details of the communications. Mofaz told Israel Radio that in light of current tensions between Israel and Syria, and considering that Damascus had made overtures toward peace, he deemed it appropriate that there should be a "secret channel" for talks. Therefore, Mofaz said, Israel had approached Syria. Officials at the Prime Minister's Office had no comment; they would neither confirm nor deny that messages had been relayed to Damascus. Mark Weiss contributed to this report