Assad. Willing to recognize Israel?
Bildt. 'Assad sincere'
Beilin. Back in the game?
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told former minister Yossi Beilin on Thursday that Syrian President Bashar Assad recognizes Israel and is willing to try and influence Hamas in this regard.
During their meeting in Stockholm, Bildt quoted Assad as saying that Syria "officially recognizes Israel, and this acknowledgment is part of the negotiations between the two countries."
According to the Swedish FM, the Syrian leader said he intends to convince Hamas to follow suit. Assad also said he believes the fact that Hamas' politburo is based in Damascus will help.
According to Bildt, Assad reiterated his desire to resume peace talks with Israel under Turkey's mediation. The Swedish FM told Beilin that Assad appears sincere in his intention to reach an agreement.
The Americans have recently renewed their efforts to have Syria rejoin the peace process. As part of these efforts, Mideast envoy George Mitchell visited Damascus a few weeks ago.
Washington is interested in pushing Syria away from Iran due to fears that Damascus, should it remain part of the so-called "axis of evil," could have a negative effect on Iraq once American forces withdraw for good.
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