Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that indirect talks his country has held with Israel could move to direct talks and conclude with a peace deal.
"If this foundation is successful then direct negotiations would represent a successful phase and then naturally, peace would be achieved," he was quoted by Syria's official SANA news agency as saying.
Assad, whose country has held four indirect rounds of talks with Israel in Turkey this year, said he hoped the new administration of U.S. President-elect Barak Obama would help by actively pursuing peace in the Middle East.
"It is natural that at a later stage we would move to the phase of direct talks (with Israel)," he said.
"We cannot achieve peace through indirect negotiations only."
Assad likened the indirect talks, suspended since September's resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over corruption scandal, to laying down the foundations of a building.
He said U.N. Security Council resolutions should be the basis for any talks.
Indirect talks between Syria and Israel have focused on Golan Heights. Israel occupied the plateau in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it more than a decade later -- a move unanimously rejected as null by the United Nations Security Council.
The two countries held almost 10 years of direct talks under U.S. supervision that collapsed in 2000 over rejection of Israel total withdrawal from the Golan.
But the two countries resumed indirect talks this year following Turkish mediation. Assad's comments coincided with a visit to Ankara by Olmert, now caretaker prime minister.
Assad said he hoped there would be no war in the Middle East under the incoming U.S. administration.
"We hope that this administration works seriously, practically and realistically towards achieving peace in our region," he said, adding, however, that Obama's first priority would have to be Iraq.
Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2008, 12:21