Syrian sources commended an invitation by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to engage in direct talks with Israel, the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday, but the country has a precondition – withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
The paper quoted sources as saying that Syrian officials supported the US attempts to bring Syria and Israel to the negotiating table, and see them as "a declaration of honest intentions".
The report says Syria's stance on peace is that it is "a strategic choice, and necessitates the existence of a partner who is willing and able to make peace". However the question remains whether there is such a partner, the sources told the paper.
"Syria supports the American move based on the assumption that territory is not up for negotiation, and that it will be defined according to the border on June 4, 1967 as well as the six points Damascus presented in the indirect Israel-Syria talks through Turkish mediation," the paper quoted one source as saying.
"Syria will not negotiate on full withdrawal," he added, referring to the Golan Heights captured by Israel during the Six Day War.
On Thursday US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus and told him the US will not allow peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians to interrupt peace efforts on the Syrian front.
Two days later Assad met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with very different results. Iranian TV reported that Ahmadinejad had called the peace talks a "failure".
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