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Syrian President Says US Sponsorship Critical for Talks With Israel

By VOA News
03 June 2008

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the United States will have to be involved if Syria and Israel are to sign a lasting peace agreement.

He also says Israel must be willing to return all of the Golan Heights, taken in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The comments were published Tuesday, in newspapers in the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Assad spoke to newspapers there Monday.

Syria and Israel announced last month they had secretly resumed indirect peace talks with the help of Turkey. The last peace talks between the two countries broke down in 2000 over disagreements about the Golan Heights.

Meanwhile, Israel confirmed Tuesday that remains it received Sunday from the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah do belong to five of its missing soldiers.

The soldiers died during Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In exchange for the remains, Israel freed a man it convicted of spying for Hezbollah.

The dual release fueled speculation that it could be part of a broader prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hezbollah. Israeli officials deny that is the case.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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