JERUSALEM, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
said Sunday he was willing to negotiate peace with Syria, but only if talks were
held without preconditions.
"I'd be glad to negotiate with Syria this evening, but without
preconditions," the top Israeli diplomat told Israel Radio in an interview.
Lieberman added that "They say, first go back to 1967 lines and give up the
Golan Heights. If we agree to that, what is there to negotiate?"
In recent days, Syria said it would resume indirect peace talks with the
new Israeli government as long as they focused on a complete Israeli withdrawal
from the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel seized in 1967 and annexed in
1981 with no recognition of the international community.
After Israel launched military offensive against Gaza in late December,
Syria formally suspended indirect peace talks with the Jewish state which began
last May under Turkish mediation.
Previous talks have broken down over the extent of an Israeli withdrawal.
Both Israel's new prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman said they
would not be willing to cede the territory Syria wants.
Lieberman's comments Sunday came after he expressed doubt about talks with
Syria during an interview with the Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung published this
"We must recognize the reality -- to date Syria has hosted the leadership
of Hamas and Islamic Jihad," he told the paper.
"It supports Hezbollah and its arms smuggling into southern Lebanon. It
supports Iran's nuclear program, and I see that it is only tightening its links
with Tehran. For this reason I cannot see Syria as a genuine partner to any sort
of agreement," said the foreign minister.
Before negotiations, the Syrians "must cease their support for terrorism
and close the centers of the terrorist organizations. Only then will we be able
to begin discussing our future ties," added Lieberman.