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Syrian answers Israeli overtures

Syria said it wants peace talks with Israel. In a response to recent peace overtures from Jerusalem, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Arnous said Tuesday his country “is prepared to resume talks, without any conditions, according to the land-for-peace principle and to achieve stability and security in the region.” Arnous appeared to be ruling out Israel’s demand that Damascus show its willingness to shun Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups and loosen its ties to Iran. But Arnous did not indicate whether Syria would abandon its own precondition for a complete return of the Golan Heights, which has been annexed by Israel. “President Bashar Assad has been clear about Syria’s willingness to resume negotiations according to the Madrid principles and international resolutions,” Arnous said, referring to the 1991 conference that attempted to jump-start peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbors.