A senior Arab diplomat said Friday that the Arab League would demand that the US include a discussion on the future of the Golan Heights in the Annapolis peace conference, so as to enable Syria to participate.
The diplomat's remarks came at the end of an informal gathering of some 11 Arab foreign ministers at Arab League headquarters in Cairo ahead of a key league meeting to hammer out a unified Arab position for the Annapolis conference.
He added that Syria would attend the summit if the US complied with this demand. Asked whether the Americans have responded on the matter, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said, "We are still waiting."
Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said, "Arabs are going to participate in the (Annapolis) meeting, to show support for the Palestinians in accordance with the Arab peace initiative."
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa (Photo: AFP)
The ministers are calling to base the talks on the Arab peace initiative, which offers full peace with Israel in exchange for a complete withdrawal from all territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also said that the Annapolis meeting will revive the stalled peace process. "(The Palestinians) have for seven years witnessed a frozen political process," Erekat said. "Now the question is not whether we should go or not, but strategically, how will we go as Arabs?"
Erekat: No to 'peace at any price'
"We want peace, but it won't be for whatever price," he added and referred to the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of east Jerusalem and the future of millions of Palestinian refugees as preconditions for peace.
The attendance of Arab heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Syria remains unclear and sources present at the meeting said much of the late night discussion revolved around the Syrian demand that the fate of the Golan Heights be high on the agenda at Annapolis.Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem spent hours trying to convince his counterparts that the conference should include an attempt to relaunch the long-frozen Syrian-Israeli peace talks.
During Friday's meeting, the ministers will be briefed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before drafting the a final, unified Arab statement on the conference.
Roee Nahmias contributed to the report