Syria: Peace Talks Only If Israel Agrees to Return Golan.
By VOA News
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reaffirmed that his government is ready to resume peace talks with Israel only if the Jewish state agrees to withdraw from occupied Arab land.
In remarks published Thursday in an Arab newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat, Assad said there has been no change in Syria's position since his late father, Hafez al-Assad, laid out the goal of a "just and comprehensive peace."
President Assad said that Syria's goal remains a "land-for-peace" agreement, under which Israel gives up all occupied land. He said Syria can only sign a peace deal that guarantees the rights of "all Arabs, with no exceptions."
Syria has demanded that Israel commit to a total withdrawal from the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war, before there can be a resumption of peace talks.
Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon repeatedly said during his election campaign that for security reasons he does not favor returning the Golan Heights to Syria.