Damascus confirms channel with Israel

Syrian official claims Turkey mediating, says: "We in Syria don't miss an opportunity to make peace."

Assad Moussa 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Assad Moussa 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Syria has confirmed the existence of a secret channel of communication with Israel which is mediated by Turkey. In an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper published Sunday, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Dr. Bushra Kanfani, denied that Syria and Israel were conducting secret negotiations though confirmed that "Turkey is used as a channel of communication" and "listens to both sides' positions." "We in Syria don't miss an opportunity to make peace," Kanfani said. "This is our choice- that the conditions [of peace] be fair and just and based on the condition that Israel withdraw to the June 4 [1967] lines. The problem is on their side." The spokeswoman continued by presenting four conditions necessary for Syria to return to the negotiating table. "Israel needs to be clearly interested in peace, Israel must accept as incumbent upon it to pay the price of peace, the US government needs to take a balanced stance and the political climate in the region needs to be made more comfortable." Since the Second Lebanon War, both Israel and Syria have declared readiness to renew negotiations and have exchanged messages through third parties, including Turkey, but there has been no public sign of movement. However, in his opening speech at the Arab Summit on Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel of stalling on peace negotiations. "The foot-dragging Israel is displaying on the issue of peace with Syria for the return of the Golan Heights is not working in its favor and the passing time won't help it achieve better conditions in the future," he said.