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Syria Says Israeli Withdrawal Basis for Peace

SYRIAN Foreign Minister Farouq Sharaa said yesterday that any Arab-Israeli peace settlement would have to be based on the Jewish state's withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands. He made no direct reference to a statement by West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher that Syria, technically at war with Israel, was ready to make peace.

``We expressed our views during talks with Genscher that achieving peace in our region should be based on full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories and guaranteeing the national rights of the Palestinian people,'' he said at a joint press conference with Mr. Genscher in Damascus.

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``We believe that without achieving these points there could be no peace in this region,'' he added.

After meeting Syrian President Hafez al-Assad on Wednesday, Genscher said: ``I have left the talks with Assad convinced that Syria wishes a peace settlement with Israel within the framework of an overall peace system.''

Jubran Kourieh, Mr. Assad's spokesman, told Reuters that the Syrian leader stressed to Genscher the need for achieving ``a just and comprehensive peace in the region.''

This had to be based on United Nations resolutions, including Resolution 338, which calls for holding an international conference on Middle East peace and an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.

Israel opposes the idea of a peace conference.

``Syria realizes that the recognition of the right for self-determination for the Palestinians also means that the right for Israel to exist is recognized and assured,'' the German minister said.

But the idea that Syria would sign a bilateral peace agreement with Israel, as Egypt did with the Camp David accords in 1979, was not mentioned, he said. The Camp David accords soured Cairo's relations with Arab states. Egypt was only readmitted to the Arab fold in 1989.

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Genscher said Syria, which has sent 20,000 troops to Saudi Arabia as part of the coalition against Iraq, would have a key role in regional security after the war.

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