""The negotiations in their preliminary stage will be conducted indirectly and do not need a sponsor. But in later stages they would require international sponsorship especially from the United States, a superpower that has special ties with Israel," Al Ittihad newspaper quoted President Bashar Assad as saying.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Washington has not yet been asked by Syria or Israel for a role in their talks and indicated that Washington wants for now to focus on the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, which the Bush administration helped to relaunch last year.
In the interview Assad also said that Israel must return all Syrian lands seized in the 1967 Middle East war as part of any peace deal.
Israel captured the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau, in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the area. Many Israelis are reluctant to relinquish the Golan, which overlooks northern Israel and borders the Sea of Galilee, a key source of drinking water.
Assad also denied that his country has a secret nuclear program. In September Israeli warplanes carried out airstrike against a Syrian site claiming that it was designed to produce atomic weapons.
On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency said Syria would allow in U.N. inspectors to probe allegations that the country was building a nuclear reactor at the remote site.
"The site they attacked wasn’t a nuclear site," Assad was quoted as saying. "If there are nuclear programs, why they didn’t ask for inspection instead of bombing?""
There are several interesting stories concerning Syria at present.
Most importantly, there is the business of future IAEA inspections in Syria. So far, Damascus (Assad) has indicated that the IAEA will be allowed to inspect only the site near the Euphrates that the Israelis bombed earlier this year. That will be a useless gesture helpful only to those who wish to describe Syria as a country seeking to conceal its real intentions and programs with regard to nuclear weapons. I understand that Basshar Assad has told people recently that such inspections are not helpful because the Iraqis allowed IAEA inspections and the Americans attacked anyway. That is true, but the fact is that Saddam’s government dragged its feet on the provision of access just enough to allow the White House propagandists depicted in Scott McClellan’s book to describe the interaction of the inspectors and the Iraqis as "stonewalling." In fact, it was nothing of the kind, but the American people (the only population that really matters in such things) "bought" the idea with the active participation of the media.
The media are not so much conspirators in such propaganda campaigns as they are merely ignorant and easy to persuade. Most of the people in the broadcast media know so little of the world that they fall consistently into the group who respond with "Gee whiz, I never knew" to the most basic information. They may think themselves an elite but in reality they are a bad joke.
Syria! Watch out! You should INSIST that the IAEA inspectors go IMMEDIATELY anywhere and everywhere in Syria to look at whatever they want. You do not have anything that will in any way change your vulnerability to massive destruction inflicted in your country by Israel and the US. You will never have anything that will change that vulnerability. Yes, I know all about asymmetric warfare. No amount of indirect pressure exerted on your present adversaries will prevent them from destroying your infrastructure if they choose to do so.
The temptation to babble on about your national sovereignty and dignity is strong in the Arab World. I have heard it many times. Such an approach is suicidal. That path will lead in the long run to some cataclysmic military event involving the US and Israel.
You can know from the State Department "talking dog" statement above that the US under this administration is not interested in seeking an objective picture of your actions. It is also not interested abetting your Turkish sponsored talks with Israel.
Therefore, your goal should be to frustrate the hopes of your political adversaries by demanding full media and other coverage of the IAEA’s Syria wide inspections. pl