Syria rejects Israel talks offer

Damascus reiterates its calls for an Israeli commitment to restore the Golan Heights.

    Moualem says such talks will be "useless" without 
    the Golan pullout commitment [Reuters]

    Indirect talks between Syria and Israel, which were being mediated by Turkey, were formally suspended in December during the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.

    Last week, Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president, said Ankara was ready to continue as a mediator. Diplomats in Damascus, the Syrian capital, said Gul has been urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Netanyahu to resume the talks.

    Assad said the Turkish-mediated talks had stopped just as Syria was waiting for an Israeli response to Damascus's definition of what constitutes the Golan boundary, which would have set the benchmark for any Israeli withdrawal.

    Israeli occupied the Golan, a fertile plateau overlooking Damascus and the Sea of Galilee, in the 1967 Middle East War.

    Syria says the occupied Golan was territory Syria held on June 4, 1967, before the war broke out, including the northeastern shore of the lake, Israel's main water reservoir.

    The two sides held almost 10 years of US-supervised talks that collapsed in 2000 when the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, father of the current president Bashar, refused an Israeli offer to pull out of the Golan but keep several hundred metres on the northeastern shore of the lake.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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