Syria’s president wants to resume peace negotiations with Israel, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter said Tuesday after meeting with Bashar Assad.
“Assad stated an interest in negotiating with Israel to try to bring a peaceful settlement to the Syrian-Israeli dispute under the U.N. doctrine of land-for-peace,” the Pennsylvania Republican said at a news conference at Damascus airport before leaving the country.
Specter, who visited Syria despite loud objections from the Bush administration, did not say what conditions Assad gave for restarting talks with the Israelis. Syrian officials were not available for comment.
Specter said he discussed with Assad how Syria could use its influence with Hamas to urge the Palestinian militant group to give up its refusal to recognize Israel. Specter also met with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.
Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported that the Assad-Specter talks focused on the situation in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and the issue of terrorism and ways of combating it.
Assad told Specter that all the region’s problems should be solved, stressing that the solution to these problems is a political one, rather than a security issue, SANA said.
It added that Specter stressed the importance of reactivating the dialogue between the United States and Syria to achieve security and stability in the Middle East.
A bipartisan panel on Iraq recommended earlier this month that the U.S. engage Syria, Iraq’s neighbor, toward returning stability to Iraq.
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