'Syria won't end Hizbullah, Hamas ties'

Minister in Assad's entourage: Demand to end ties with groups "like demand that US end its Israel ties."

assad poster 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
assad poster 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Syria will not give up its ties with Hizbullah and Hamas, Syrian Expatriate Minister Buthaina Sha'aban said Monday. Speaking at a press conference during a visit to India, Sha'aban said "the Israeli demand that Syria shake off Hizbullah and Hamas as a condition for peace negotiations is like a demand that the US shake off its ties with Israel." Sha'aban, considered a close ally of President Bashar Assad, said Damascus's ties with Hizbullah and Hamas were "a Syrian internal affair that no one should interfere with." She added that "Hizbullah and Hamas are not using violence. These are organizations opposing the occupation and working to prevent it." Sha'ban was in India accompanying her president on a state visit there. She said Syria would "never give up on a centimeter" of the Golan Heights, but promised that "we will seriously strive to achieve peace." Sha'aban claimed that "from Syria's experience, Israel always says something during negotiations and does something else on the ground. Are they serious?" Also on Monday, the second round of Turkish mediated Israeli-Syrian talks ended in Ankara. A Jerusalem official said that talks were held in "a good atmosphere" and that the sides agreed to continue meeting.