Syrian FM in response to Peres: Golan Heights belongs to us
After Israeli president says Syria can't expect to get disputed region on a silver platter, Muallem tells joint press conference with German counterpart that Israel must cede land without preconditions; Assad says 'no real partner in Israel'; Steinmeier: Rein in 'destructive' Mideast elements
Syria is demanding that Israel to cede the Golan Heights without any preconditions, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Tuesday.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Damascus with visiting German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Muallem said Syria wants the disputed region returned to it "on a silver platter," adding "it is our land."
The Syrian FM was responding to Israeli President Shimon Peres' statement, according to which Syria can't expect to get the Golan Heights on a silver platter while maintaining its ties with Hezbollah and Iran.
Peres made the comments during his meeting with Steinmeier in Jerusalem on Monday.
Israel conquered the Golan Heights during the Six Day War in 1967.
Muallem said the possibility of resuming the indirect peace negotiations with Israel under Turkish mediation hinges on Israel's "willingness to commit to peace."
The talks were launched last year, but were suspended in December due to Israel's military offensive in Gaza.
Steinmeier, for his part, urged Syria to do its part to ensure the success of Middle East peace efforts and said "destructive elements" in the region needed to be reined in.
"Syria has an objective interest in the success of the Middle East peace process and I call on Syria and also my counterpart Mr Muallem to do its part," he told the joint press conference.
"There is no time to lose," Steinmeier said after meeting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Muallem on the latest leg of a Middle East tour.
But he said the Syrian-backed Lebanese Shiite fundamentalist militant group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas had shown "no interest in the success of the peace talks."
"In my view, the peace process can only proceed when destructive elements in the region are reined in," the German foreign minister added.
Assad said following his meeting with Steinmeier that there is no "real partner" in Israel to make peace, stressing that a halt to Jewish settlements is essential for restarting peace talks with the Jewish state.
AFP contributed to the report