Syrian President Bashar Assad said during a visit to The United Arab Emirates on Monday that Israel's agreement to withdraw from the Golan Heights was a prerequisite for the renewed peace negotiations between the two countries.
Speaking to editors of local news outlets in Abu Dhabi, Assad said "Syria conditioned the launching of indirect negotiations with Israel, with Turkey's mediation, on the (Jewish state's) agreement to cede the Golan.
"The success of the negotiations hinge on Israel's intentions and on global political developments," he said.
The Syrian president continued to say that the peace talks were at their "initial phase", adding that as they proceed the negotiations will require international backing, "especially on the part of the US, as it is a global power with strong and special ties to Israel".
Asked what position Syria would take in case of a nuclear attack on Iran, Assad responded "we do not plan on going to war, but Iran's neighbors would suffer most (from such an attack). I have made this clear to the US."
London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported last week that a senior Israeli source, who took part in unofficial Turkey-mediated talks between Israel and Syria said that the two sides are discussing a border line which will be based on the June 4, 1967 borders and the future of the Golan Heights' residents.
The paper reported that according to the source, 85% of the issues standing between Israel and Syria on the way to a peace deal have already been agreed. One of the issues that has yet to be discussed is Israel's demand that Syria detach itself from Hamas and Hizbullah and break its strategic alliance with Iran.
Local media reported that Assad also addressed the recent crisis in Lebanon. "Syria supported the Doha agreement (which ended 18-month political stalemate in Lebanon)," Assad was quoted as saying, "personally I was concerned that the crisis would lead to civil war."