'We'd consider gradual Golan return'

Syrian FM tells Guardian step-by-step withdrawal could involve normalization.

walid moallem 311 (photo credit: AP)
walid moallem 311
(photo credit: AP)
Damascus would consider a gradual return of the Golan Heights by Israel, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem has said.
"There could be stages of withdrawal, the timing of which could involve a form of normalization," he told the Guardian's Gabrielle Rifkind in December. "Half of the Golan could lead to an end of enmity; three-quarters of the Golan, to a special interest section in the US embassy in Damascus: a full withdrawal would allow a Syrian embassy in Israel."
During the interview, details of which were published on the British newspaper's Web site at the weekend, Moallem said issues such as Syria's support for terror groups would "only be answered after withdrawal."
The Syrian foreign minister stressed that while Damascus was willing to resume negotiations, "Israel needs to be ready to recognize that Syria is entitled to every inch of the Golan."
"For us the land is sacred and a matter of honor," said Moallem.
He said Syria wanted Turkey to resume its mediation role ininitial talks, but that the next stage "would entail direct talks withAmerica to address the security concerns. The key issue here is USflights over the Golan in order to provide security."
Turkish-mediated negotiations came to an end due to the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter.