Assad with Moratinos. Blames Israel
Photo: AFP
Netanyahu. 'Ready for talks without preconditions'
Photo: Eli Mandelbaum

Assad: Israel pushing region towards war

Syrian president meets with Spanish foreign minister in Damascus, tells him Jewish state 'is not serious about achieving peace and all facts point to it being the one pushing the region towards war.' PM's Office says remarks 'unfortunate'

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday accused Israel of “pushing the region towards war”. During a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos in Damascus, Assad said that the Jewish state "is not serious about achieving peace”.


The SANA news agency reported that the two officials spoke of regional issues and the “standstill peace process”. Assad told Moratinos, whose country is the current EU president, that “Israel is not serious about achieving peace and all facts point to it being the one pushing the region towards war and not peace”.


Moratinos arrived in Syria after a visit in Israel, during which he addressed the Herzilya Conference. He said the Jewish state did not appear to want war.


"I came from Israel. I didn't hear any noise of drums of war. I heard drums of peace," he said.


The Prime Minister's Office responded to the remarks by saying that "it's unfortunate to hear the statements from Syria while reality is the exact opposite."


Nir Hefetz, head of the National Information Directorate at the PM's Office, said that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated many times that he would be willing to come to any place in the world, any time, in order to launch peace talks with Syria without any preconditions.


"Israel does not rule out the assistance of a descent third-party, which has the power to advance the peace process with Syria, as long as there are no preconditions," Hefetz added. "Unfortunately, Syria is the one placing difficulties and preventing the existence of negotiations for arrangements which would guarantee peace, security and prosperity for all parties."


Assad spoke just hours after his foreign minister, Walid Moallem, said that "Israel knows that if it declares war on Syria, such a war will reach its cities as well."


The Syrian minister was responding to remarks made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier this week. Speaking at a forum of senior IDF commanders, Barak said a full-blown war with Syria was possible in case a peace agreement is not reached.


Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni criticized Barak's remarks on Wednesday, saying that his "muscle flexing" is causing a deterioration in Israel's security.


"On my way here, I heard the statements made by the Syrian foreign minister who said that if Israel is talking war then we will fight back – he is responding to statements made here. For us, whenever someone dealing with security flexes a muscle, then the other side flexes its muscle, and the situation deteriorates," said Livni at the launch of "Desert Queen 2010" in Ness Ziona.


Roni Sofer, Reuters and Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 02.03.10, 22:50
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