Syrian paper: Time for peace talks

State-run daily: summit opportunity may not return; Lebanese paper: Syria-Iran relations strong.

Israel Syria flags 298.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel Syria flags 298.8
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Annapolis conference is an opportunity that may not return, state-run Syrian paper Teshreen wrote Wednesday in its editorial. "It is now vital to act seriously to put peace talks back on track. The alternatives to this are dangerous to the region and the entire world," the paper wrote. "When Syria announced that it would attend [the conference], it wanted to prove to the world that it is a peace-loving nation, and that it would go with Arab consensus and the Arab peace initiative and make the greatest efforts in order to return its rights and its stolen lands," the editorial continued. The piece was not without criticism. Attacking US policy in the Middle East, the editorial claimed Arabs no longer trusted the administration. "The Annapolis conference was perhaps the last chance for the American government to demonstrate the sincerity of its intentions and to improve its image to Arab citizens. Arabs have always doubted the neutrality of the American position on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the past seven years the Bush administration has supported Israeli policy and repeated Israeli statements like a parrot," the editorial stated. "When the US now assembles the Annapolis conference, it is our right to wonder how serious [its intention are]," it added. The editorial did express hope, however, that the US would "try to amend this serious flaw in its policy," calling the nation a powerful and influential force in the international arena. Meanwhile, Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar quoted Syrian officials as stating that the conference brought hope that the Golan Heights could be returned to Syria as part of negotiations with Israel, after Israeli sources reportedly hinted that they were willing to discuss with Syria the price for peace. The officials added that the US had intended to use the conference in order to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran, but strategic relations between the two nations would remain strong. On Monday, the same paper published an editorial saying Syria would "attend the Annapolis conference in order to examine the US's commitment to peace." "Syria agreed to attend the Annapolis conference but it is not naïve. [Syria] knows Israel does not want peace and is responsible for the seven-year hiatus in the peace process." "Going to Annapolis, Syria takes into consideration that the Palestinian issue is the fundamental issue on the way to achieving peace, security, and stability in the region, and also that true peace requires the return of all occupied Arab territories; Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian." "Syria will be part of the consensus which aims to force Israel to follow International and Arab principles for peace, and to foil [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's plan to force Arab countries to recognize Israel as a Jewish state," the article read. "Syria and the entire Arab world knows that Olmert is trying to force the whole world to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and to obtain normalization without receiving anything in return. Will the Arab consensus be able to block Olmert's aspirations and bring a total and just peace?"