Photo: AFP
Assad - Going back on May statement?
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Assad admits Israel never pledged to cede Golan

Syrian president reaffirms Israeli position insisting Jerusalem made no commitment to Damascus on issue of Golan Heights as prerequisite to peace talks. Meanwhile, IAEA says it will inspect nuclear facilities in Syria

Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Monday that there is no agreement on a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.


However, he said, this would remain Syria's demand and Damascus was drawing up plans for the settlement of the areas evacuated by Israel.


"We resumed the talks to regain the Golan Heights, and now we are waiting for Israel's response," Assad told reporters at a press conference held in the Persian Gulf on Monday when asked to address the recently renewed Turkish-mediated negotiations between Syria and Israel after an eight-year hiatus.


The response seems to contradict Assad's statement last month with the disclosure of the talks. In an interview with a Qatari newspaper the president said he had received a personal vow from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Israel would cede the Golan in exchange for peace.


Olmert denied the report at the time. Assad, however, only clarified the reports on Monday. "We are waiting for Israel's response, but Israel should bear in mind that Syria will not compromise on the issue of the Golan," he said.


IAEA to inspect Syrian facilities  

Meanwhile the UN atomic watchdog chief said on Monday Syria would let in top inspectors to examine allegations of a secret nuclear reactor, and demanded "full disclosure" by Iran over reports of covert atom bomb research.


The International Atomic Energy Agency added Syria to a growing list of nuclear proliferation worries after Washington in April turned over intelligence suggesting Damascus built a nuclear reactor at a site bombed by Israel last September.


IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei announced the June 22-24 trip by top aides to Syria after months of what Western diplomats said was Syrian stonewalling on IAEA requests for access.


The trip was expected to include inspector visits to the remote al-Kabir site targeted by Israel "and other places", a senior diplomat familiar with the matter told Reuters. Other diplomats said 2-3 sites beyond al-Kabir were under scrutiny.


Reuters contributed to this report 


פרסום ראשון: 06.03.08, 08:51
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