UN envoy urges Israel to 'grab' Syria's outstretched hand for talks

Terje Roed-Larsen

30 November 2004 – The top United Nations envoy for the Middle East today became the first UN official to appear before the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, and urged the country to "grab the outstretched hand" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resume peace negotiations without preconditions.

With just a few weeks to go before he leaves his post, Terje Roed-Larsen, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed Committee members on his recent trip to Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, stressing the existence of "potential opportunities" in the region.

Mr. Roed-Larsen visited President Assad last week and said the Syrian leader had an outstretched hand to Israel and was willing to go to the negotiating table based on the relevant Security Council resolutions and the principle of land for peace, without conditions.

Today's meeting also focused on the potential for movement on the Israeli-Palestinian track and on relations between Israel and the UN.

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