ISTANBUL - Syrian President Bashar Assad told a Gulf newspaper yesterday that Damascus will negotiate with any Israeli government regardless of its political orientation, and added that there was little difference between the political left and the right.
"One is bad and the other is awful," the Syrian leader told the United Arab Emirates daily Al Khaleej, adding that Arab states should not hang their hopes on the ideological make-up of the Israeli cabinet.
In terms of the stalled indirect negotiations between Damascus and Tel-Aviv, Assad said Syria sought comprehensive peace with Israel. "The aim of the indirect negotiations is merely to check the pulse," he said.
Syria formally suspended the Turkish-mediated indirect talks last year during Israel's offensive in Gaza, but Syrian officials have not ruled out their resumption, even if a right-wing government is formed in Israel.
Damascus stressed on several occasions that it wanted to resume talks with Israel, but asked for U.S. participation. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on Saturday said Turkey was ready to relaunch peace talks if there was a request from both sides.
Assad said a peace deal with Israel was possible but that normal relations would only be possible if Israel ended its conflict with the Palestinians. "There will perhaps be an embassy and formalities, but if you want peace then it has to be comprehensive," Assad said.