Millennium 2000: Israel-Syrian Peace Talks Set to Resume Tomorrow in West VirginiaAired January 2, 2000 - 6:08 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations are set to resume tomorrow in a secluded region of West Virginia. President Clinton, for one, has pledged to be available if this latest attempt to establish a peaceful future appears to hit the wall.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Charles Bierbauer joins us from the State Department, with more on the talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara -- Charles.
CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Syrians and the Israelis will be picking up, in essence, where they left off here in Washington last month. But as you indicate, they'll be doing it in Sheperdstown, West Virginia, at a conference center. That's far enough from Washington, about an hour and a half, to provide some solitude and close enough for President Clinton to helicopter there when he thinks he can be helpful. The president will be on hand Monday. And U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says she'll be engaged full-time.
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MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are going to be dealing with the following issues: withdrawal, thi issue of mutual security, of the whole content of peace, what it looks like, the character of it, how these countries are going to get along, the timetable, and obviously water is a very important issue, and both of the parties are bringing their experts on all of this.
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BIERBAUER: Water rights are a practical matter of utmost importance in the Middle East. An agreement could mean sharing the water resources of the sea of Galliea (ph) and the Jordan River. Those flow at the foot of the Golan Heights, which have been in Israeli hands since the 1967 War.
The Syrians expect to regain the Golan Heights, which once gave them a tactical advantage for strikes on Israel settlements. But now it's Israelis in thousands who've settled the Golan Heights. So for Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the matter of turning the Golan Heights back over is a political and certainly a tactical one. The prime minister before leaving Israel in route to Washington said that it's just too early in the process to start talking about where the final border will lie. Israel would like to reach a core agreement at Sheperdstown, which could assure its security, and at the same time, normalize relations with Syria, with which its been at war for decades, and lead to a later peace treaty -- Wolf.
BLITZER: OK, Charles Bierbauer, reporting from the State Department.
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