Report: Assad rejected Sharon overture for secret talks

IN ISRAEL / Door: WEBMASTER / 5 mrt 2001 EU



The London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper revealed Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected a proposal by Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon to resume negotiations in secret and without prior conditions, Israel Radio reported Monday.

The paper said Assad told EU special envoy Miguel Moratinos that Syria was ready to resume peace talks on the land-for-peace basis of the Middle East peace conference launched in Madrid in 1991, as well as on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions. "The president stressed that there won’t be any negotiations outside this context," the newspaper said.

Assad told Moratinos that Syria had nothing to be ashamed of "to accept to hold secret peace talks with the Jewish state", it added.

Assad also told Moratinos that Syria would not allow the right-wing Sharon, whom Arabs consider to be a warmonger, to play up one Arab peace track against the other, the paper said, referring to deadlocked negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.