Assad: Mideast peace plan must include Golan

Assad's comment follows report that Syria will attend conference; Moussa: Arabs to adopt unified stance.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, reiterated Thursday that any Middle East peace initiative formulated at the upcoming Middle East conference that did not include talks on the Golan Heights "would not be serious" and could not achieve a just peace in the region. Assad's comments followed a meeting he held in Damascus with Arab League chief Amr Moussa. Syria has repeatedly said it would attend the conference, due before the end of the year in Annapolis, Maryland, only if discussions included the return of the Golan. Earlier Thursday, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram reported that Syria will be attending the upcoming conference. It also said, quoting an unnamed Palestinian official, that Syria has received assurances from Russia and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that it will receive a direct invitation to attend the conference. Although US officials have said the focus of the conference will be the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in recent days that he hoped Syria would take part. Also following Thursday's meeting, Moussa told reporters after that Arab states would come up with a united stand on the conference at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to be held in Cairo Nov. 22-23. "What we want is a conference that deals with the Arab-Israeli conflict and starts serious negotiations under international supervision," he said. Abbas would attend the Cairo meeting and would brief the ministers on all issues relating to the conference, added Moussa. The league secretary general, who arrived in Damascus late Wednesday, also held separate talks with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. He was also to meet with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, before heading back to Cairo.