Syrian President Bashar Assad declared once again that Turkey is the only country that can mediate between Syria and Israel, and said all other countries or sources "can play only a supportive role, not an alternative one."
In a meeting with Turkish journalists in Damascus, the Syrian president added that he is convinced Ankara will be successful at its task, and noted that "if we had found a more successful negotiator, we would have gone to them,” he added."
Turkish newspaper Zaman on Saturday reported that Assad expressed his support of Ankara's demands of Israel following the flotilla raid. Turkey has demanded a public apology, compensation for the victims' families, the ships' return to Turkey, and Israel's agreement to the formation of an independent international inquiry commission.
According to Assad, failure to meet these demands will put a serious strain on efforts to renew indirect talks between Israel and Syria.
'Turkey should not give up on rightful demands'"Turkey has made a few attempts lately to resume its role (as mediator), but now blood has been shed,” Assad said, “Turkey cannot give up on the blood of its nationals for the sake of mediation. Otherwise, it might lose its weight and credibility.”
When asked if Israel's fulfillment of the demands was also a Syrian condition, Assad said it was a condition for Turkey, but not for Syria.
“Turkey may resume its role as mediator, but it should not give up on its rightful demands for an apology, an investigation and compensation,” he said.
Of US President Barack Obama's policies in the Middle East, Assad said the basic American stance was "positive", but noted that Obama's approach on the region is not shared by certain institutions in Washington. He added that Obama is still very far from achieving his declared goals.
"It was meaningful that he preferred to listen to the other party, rather than impose something," Assad said. “But, in the end, the US talks about interests, not intentions. At the moment, there are no concrete positive developments, but one thing is clear: Other institutions in the US are not supporting Obama’s views on this region.”
The Syrian president warned that "this is a danger for the region. As long as there is no peace, a war may erupt.”
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