Sunday, November 19, 2006


Report: Syria to demand Golan as price for aiding U.S. on Iraq

By The Associated Press

"As Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem was expected begin a landmark visit to Iraq on Sunday, Damascus was reportedly set to demand that Washington press Israel over the issue of return of the Golan Heights, as the price of its cooperation with the Bush administration on Iraq, Moallem would be the highest ranking Syrian official to visit Iraq since the U.S.-ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and a major step toward restoring diplomatic relations, Kurdish legislator Mahmoud Othman said.

A senior Iraqi Foreign Ministry official confirmed the visit on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Media reports have said that former U.S. secretary of state James Baker's report on Iraq policy will recommend that the Bush administration engage Syria and Iran in discussions over Iraq.

The Sunday Times of London quoted Ayman Abdel Nour, an official of the ruling Syrian Ba?ath party, as saying that Assad's "top demand" of the United States and Britiain will be that the allies use their influence with Israel to raise the return of the Golan.

"The Syrian leadership is fed up with the Americans and does not trust their word when it comes to future aid for Syria," Abdel Nour was quoted as saying.

"Syria will not do anything unless it has secured guarantees from Washington and London that every action Damascus takes to help them will be reciprocated. It will be a step by step scenario: these actions for those actions,? he added.

The report said that Assad also insists that any help must be dependent on a timetable for US troop withdrawals, a move resisted by President George W Bush."

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