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SYRIA OUTLINES ISRAEL PEACE PLAN
19:27

Syrian President Bashar Assad outlined details of Israel peace proposal

Thursday September 4,2008

Syrian President Bashar Assad disclosed that his country has given Turkish mediators an outline of general proposals for peace with Israel and is waiting for Israel's response before holding any face-to-face negotiations.

Assad said the document was intended to serve as the basis for direct talks and that he was waiting for a similar document laying out Israel's starting position. So far, negotiations have been held indirectly through Turkish mediation.

The Syrian president also cautioned that the future of negotiations rested on who becomes prime minister in Israel and whether the new leader will be committed to pursuing peace with Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the target of several corruption investigations, has announced he will step down after his party chooses a new leader this month. That has left peace prospects with both Syria and the Palestinians uncertain.

Olmert's office refused to comment on the Syrian announcement.

Any direct talks would also have to wait until a new American administration is in place, Assad said, acknowledging the importance of strong US backing for such an effort.

Assad spoke at the opening of a summit in Damascus with the leaders of France, Turkey and Qatar to discuss Mideast stability and peace.

He did not disclose details of the Syrian proposals, and few details have emerged from four rounds of indirect talks with Israel over the past year.

"We are now discussing a document of principles, which talks about general principles of the peace process which will be the basis for direct negotiations," Assad said.

He said Syria outlined six points on the issue of the "withdrawal line," a reference to the extent of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and a major sticking point over which direct negotiations collapsed in 2000. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war.

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