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» 01/27/2009
SYRIA - UNITED STATES
Assad: ready to dialogue with Obama, but "without conditions"
The Syrian president speaks of positive signs from the new American administration, and reveals that officials close to the new president have already visited Damascus. Talks with Israel remain frozen.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Syria is ready to dialogue with Obama's new U.S. administration, but "without conditions," while it is keeping indirect talks with Israel "frozen." Syrian president Bashar Assad made the remarks in an interview with al-Manar, the Lebanese television station owned by Hezbollah.

"We have positive signs" from the new administration, he said, "but we have learned to be cautious and not to count on such signs as long as there is nothing tangible." Assad also revealed that officials close to the Obama administration were sent to Damascus weeks before the inauguration of the new president, as a prelude to dialogue. But "if there are conditions, then there will be no dialogue. They know that."

Currently there is no United States ambassador in Damascus. The representative was withdrawn four years ago by the Bush administration, because of Syria's support for terrorists in Iraq and interference in Lebanon.

As for the indirect talks that were underway with Israel with Turkey's mediation, and which Syria suspended at the beginning of the Israeli attack on Gaza, Assad maintained that there are no prospects for an immediate resumption, and reiterated that the complete withdrawal of the Israelis from the Golan Heights, occupied during the war in 1967, is an absolute condition. "We will never abandon this," he said.

Yesterday, outgoing Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert seemed more optimistic on relations with Syria. "At the end of the day," he said, "we will be able to reach an agreement that will end the conflict between us and the Syrians." "They have lots of aspirations, lots of desires - sometimes entirely unrealistic - but they also know that it is better to make peace with Israel than to fight with Israel."


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See also
11/17/2008 KOREA - UNITED STATES
Obama could have tremendous influence on relations between the two Koreas
by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
07/28/2008 SYRIA - ISRAEL
Syrian ambassador to the United States, "historic opportunity for Israel to make peace"
07/04/2008 ISRAEL - SYRIA
"Constructive" peace talks between Jerusalem and Damascus
05/21/2008 ISRAEL - SYRIA - TURKEY
It's official: Damascus and Jerusalem are talking peace
09/05/2008 SYRIA
Fifth round of indirect talks between Damascus and Jerusalem set for September 18
by Paul Dakiki

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
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SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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