Report: Bush offers swift Golan withdrawal
Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida says Palestinian leader Abbas delivered secret letter from US president to Syrian counterpart Assad, offering 'a quick and satisfactory solution' to Golan Heights issue in return for complete disbandment of Syrian-Iranian alliance
According to the report, the offer was made in a secret letter from Bush delivered to Assad by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during his recent visit to Damascus.
The letter included an American proposal to reach "a quick and satisfactory solution" to the Golan issue in return for defined moves and a declaration that the Syria would abandon its alliance with Iran once and for all.
A Palestinian source close to Abbas told the paper that the offer was included "in a secret letter sent personally by President Bush.
"In the letter, Bush suggested finalizing the agreement within several weeks, before the US presidential elections, in order to push the Middle East peace process, an achievement the president will be able to proudly present before leaving the White House in January."
The same source added that the delegation accompanying Abbas on his visit to Syria "was unaware of the letter or its details, and the US insisted that this be carried out secretly and far away from the official channels."
The newspaper went on to report that the American ambassador to Damascus was not informed about the issue as well.
The source added that the real objective of Abbas' arrival in Damascus was to deliver the letter to Assad.
During his visit to the Syrian capital, the Palestinian president refrained from meeting with most of the leaders of the Palestinian organizations residing in Damascus. According to the report, he only held a few polite meetings with a number of senior member of the Palestinian groups.
The unofficial peace talks between Israel and Syria have been brought into a stalemate. The fifth round of Turkish-mediate negotiations, which was scheduled to being in mid September, was postponed.
Sources at the Prime Minister's Office have clarified that the talks would be resumed immediately after a solution is found in regards to the definition of the role of Ehud Olmert's outgoing Chief of Staff Yoram Turbowicz, who also served as his representative at the negotiations table.