Former President Jimmy Carter says Syria is prepared to engage in peace talks with Israel provided the U.S. is involved — and criticizes current American policy as “counterproductive.”
Following his return from his controversial trip to the Middle East, Carter writes in an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times:
“Syria’s president, Bashir al-Assad, has expressed eagerness to begin negotiations with Israel to end the impasse on the Golan Heights. He asks only that the United States be involved and that the peace talks be made public.”
He also states: “A counterproductive Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.”
Carter once again denied Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s assertion that the Bush administration explicitly warned him against meeting with members of Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip and which is regarded by the U.S. as a terror group.
Carter writes that the goal of his Middle East trip “was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiatives endorsed by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Although I knew that official United States policy was to boycott the government of Syria and leaders of Hamas, I did not receive any negative or cautionary messages about the trip, except that it might be dangerous to visit Gaza.”
Carter also maintains that, based on his talks with Hamas leaders, Hamas is willing to disband its militia in Gaza “if a nonpartisan professional security force can be formed.”
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