In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, the Syrian president said: "Our vision regarding peace stated that no more than two years should pass since we set out for the Madrid conference (and until the negotiations are completed)… if we want to renew talks from the same point we stopped, then the talks need six months."
Lately, Assad has been sending implicit messages to Israel regarding his wish to renew the negotiations. On several occasion the Syrian leader conveyed messages to senior Israeli officials stating that a window of opportunity for peace has opened, but that if Israel fails to seize this opportunity, the situation in the region may deteriorate. Israel, however, rejected the offers from Damascus, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently declared that "Assad is not a partner for peace at the moment."
In his interview with El Pais, Assad did not hesitate to use a threatening tone, and stated: "Two sides are responsible for the situation (with Israel), not just one… the situation is linked to one issue – the situation of the peace process… or maybe war, if there isn't a peace process."
'No one can stop arms smuggling'Assad also refereed to the issue of international forces' presence in Lebanon, and stated that "if the international forces were sent in in order to stay there forever… then our problem with the UN's decision is that they are being made – and the world then goes to sleep… but if we regard Resolution 1701 as an interim solution that enables a return to the peace process… in that case I believe that peace can be achieved within a few years."
Assad noted that "we are strengthening the border with Lebanon, but of course this means that we have to move the soldiers from other places – in this case, the border with Iraq." He rejected claims by the United States and Iraq that Syria was not making sufficient efforts to ensure that gunmen do not infiltrate the border between the two countries.
"The states of the world need to rely on Syria to control its borders," he said. "If there is a true desire to smuggle weapons or to infiltrate from one country to the other, I guarantee you that neither the UN, nor the Security Council and all the armies of the world can assist," he added.