Arab ties with Israel only after pullout: Syria

Syria told a US peace conference on Tuesday that Israel should pull out of occupied land before Arab countries would normalize ties with the Jewish state.

Arab ties with Israel only after pullout: Syria
"The establishment of normal ties with Israel ... must be the fruit of comprehensive peace and not precede it," Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Al Mekdad told a closed session of the conference in Annapolis, Maryland, attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"To phrase it clearly and decisively that this (normalization) comes after the total Israeli withdrawal from the 1967 Arab land," he said in a speech.

Mekdad reiterated Syria's commitment to a 2002 Arab peace proposal, which centres on normal ties with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territory occupied four decades ago, including the Golan.

"We are sincere in seeking a comprehensive and just peace and possess the political will to achieve it."

US and Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed hope that more Arab countries would establish ties with Israel.

Talks between Israel and Syria collapsed in 2000 after Damascus declined an Israeli offer to withdraw from most of the Golan Heights but not what Syria described as the full occupied territory.

Syria had made it clear that it would only attend the talks in Annapolis if the Golan was on the agenda. The demand was met by Washington, which says Damascus is supporting Palestinian and Lebanese groups.

Mekdad reiterated the Syrian position that Israeli occupation of Arab land was the root of instability in the Middle East.

"It is clear to anyone observing our region that the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory including Jerusalem ... the Syrian Golan and the Lebanese Shebaa Farms is a major source of tension and threat to the security and stability of the whole region," he said.

Syrian officials said many participants at the closed meeting had demanded that the US-led peace drive include the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks and not focus just on the Palestinian track.

US President George W. Bush had announced at the opening of the 44-nation conference an agreement to launch immediate talks between Israel and the Palestinians to try to secure a peace deal by the end of 2008 that would create a Palestinian state.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Kasım 2007, 16:08