Austrian president visits troops in Syria

Austrian President Heinz Fischer paid a visit to troops from his country serving with a UN mission near the Syrian-Israeli border Sunday, the state-run news agency SANA reported. Fischer arrived in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday for a two-day visit and was received at the airport by Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa. He then traveled to the town of Quneitra, some 65 kilometers south of Damascus, to visit his country's contingent with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights. The 1,125-strong force was established following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war to monitor the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. Israel took the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and Syria wants the land returned in exchange for peace. The Austrian president is scheduled to hold talks with President Bashar Assad on Monday, SANA said.