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Clinton and Assad to meet in Geneva

President Clinton is to meet his Syrian counterpart, Hafez al-Assad, in Switzerland on Sunday in an effort to revive Syrian-Israeli peace talks which broke off in January. The two men last met in Geneva in 1994 (picture).

This content was published on March 20, 2000 - 14:47

President Clinton is to meet his Syrian counterpart, Hafez al-Assad, in Switzerland on Sunday in an effort to revive Syrian-Israeli peace talks, which broke off in January over disagreements over the fate of the Golan Heights. The two men last met in Geneva in 1994 (picture).

Speaking in Bangladesh on the first day of a week-long visit to Asia, Clinton said he would stop in Geneva for the talks on his way home. It will be the first time since Syrian-Israeli negotiations resumed last year that Assad will take part in face-to-face negotiations. Damascus has so far been represented at the talks by the foreign minister, Farouq al-Shara.

"I don't want to unduly raise expectations, but I think that this is an appropriate thing for me to do to try to get this back on track so that our objective of having a comprehensive peace can go forward," Clinton said.

The talks between Syria and Israel were suspended in January because of a dispute over whether Israel should commit itself in advance to full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, seized during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel insisted security issues should be addressed first.

Earlier this month, Switzerland made public an offer to host a trilateral US-Israeli-Syrian summit. Last week, the Israeli foreign minister, David Levy, said in Berne that Israel welcomed the offer. However, it is not clear if Israeli leaders will attend the Geneva talks on Sunday.

swissinfo with agencies

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