DUBAI (AFP) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus would establish "normal" relations including the opening of embassies if a peace accord was sealed with Israel, in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
"From the very start of the peace process, we have been speaking of normal relations" with the Jewish state as part of a peace deal, he told the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.
"Whether it's called normal relations or a normalisation makes little difference. These are normal relations, just like any relations between two states with embassies, links and treaties," said Assad.
"Things could deteriorate, just like they could improve. Relations could be warm, just as they could be cold," he said. "This is all part of the sovereignty of each state. This is what we call normal relations."
Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were on Sunday both in Paris where they held indirect talks through Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Israeli diplomatic source said.
Following an eight-year freeze, Syria and Israel began indirect talks in May, brokered by Turkey.
In exchange for peace, Syria is demanding that Israel return the strategic Golan Heights, which the Jewish state seized in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed.
Assad, Olmert and Erdogan were among regional leaders in the French capital for the launch of a Mediterranean Union.
On Saturday, the Syrian leader said Washington and Paris could contribute to a peace deal but ruled out direct negotiations with Israel before a new US president takes office next January.
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