Peres Casts off Syrian Claim, Says Israel Committed to Talks

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has rejected Syria’s claim that Jerusalem is responsible for the current impasse in the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations.

Peres said Monday that he was disappointed with Syrian President Hafez Assad’s “pessimistic tone” regarding the negotiations and with Assad’s refusal to enter into high-level military talks with Israel.

Assad, speaking in Cairo this week, said he doubted that any progress would be made in the Israeli-Syrian negotiations in the near future.

Assad recently called off the negotiations, saying that any resumption of the military talks, last held between the two countries’ military chiefs of staff in late June in Washington, would have to be preceded by Israel’s dropping its demand to establish ground-based early warning stations on the Golan Heights.

Peres responded to Assad’s comments during a session Monday of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, after which a parliamentary official quoted Peres as saying that Syria was responsible for the stalemate in the negotiations because of its failure to keep to its agreement to hold talks between senior military officers from the two sides.

While criticizing Assad, Peres reiterated Israel’s commitment to the talks.

“Israel will continue to pursue the policy of peace and security, without any interruption,” he told reporters after the closed session.

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