Photo: AFP
Assad. 'Nothing'
Photo: AFP
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Olmert also denies letter
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Assad denies he sent letter to Olmert

During Moscow visit, Syrian president denies media reports that Damascus sent secret proposals to Israel suggesting talks on disputed Golan Heights, offering help on releasing soldier captured by Hamas; 'There is no such proposal – nothing,' Assad says

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday denied media reports that Syria had sent secret proposals to Israel proposing talks on the disputed Golan Heights and offering help on releasing an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas.


"There is no such proposal – nothing," he said.


Assad also said he was ready for dialogue with the United States but warned Washington against giving Damascus orders.


Assad, wrapping up a visit to key ally Russia, was asked by reporters about proposals by a special US Panel that the United States should open talks with Iran and Syria.


"We want to make a dialogue but you have to differentiate between dialogue and giving instructions. We are open for dialogue but we will not take instructions," Assad told a news conference after meeting President Vladimir Putin.


Assad described his meeting with Putin as "successful and constructive" but gave few concrete details beyond praising Moscow's role in the region and saying it could be a sponsor of a peace settlement.


The Syrian leader declined to comment on Russian arms sales to Syria and rejected as a "Fabrication" Suggestions that Russian weapons had been provided by Syria to Lebanon.


A recent resumption of high-level contacts between Syrian and European officials and calls for talks with Damascus by the Washington panel have opened the way for a possible rapprochement between the West and Syria.


But US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected the bipartisan panel's recommendations, saying the price of engaging Syria and Iran was likely to be too high, the Washington Post reported last week.


'Always ready to talk to US'

Washington imposed sanctions on Syria in 2004, mainly for backing the Palestinian Hamas movement and the Shiite Hizbullah group in Lebanon.


Assad, however, said he was always ready to talk to the United States provided the subject matter was appropriate.


"Any dialogue is useful providing you are discussing common interests of two countries but not to discuss other interests and ignore your interests," he said.


Putin, speaking earlier at the Kremlin, said he was concerned about the Middle East moving from one conflict to another and planned to discuss turmoil in Gaza with Assad.


"Unfortunately the situation in the (Middle East) region remains tense," Putin said. "We see that the region is practically developing from on conflict to another and that cannot but concern us."


פרסום ראשון: 12.19.06, 18:12
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