Obama Committed to Syrian-Israeli Agreement

The United States told Syria on Thursday it was committed to seeking a peace deal between the Syrian government and Israel, a main objective for Damascus in its rapprochement with Washington.

"We conveyed...President Obama's sincere commitment to pursue Arab-Israeli peace on all tracks, including on the Syrian-Israeli track," senior State Department official Jeffrey Feltman said after meeting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in Syria.

Moallem said Thursday there was no justification for amending a 2002 Saudi peace offer to Israel after reports earlier in the week that Arab states were revising the initiative.

The pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper said Tuesday that Arab states were considering concessions to Israel on the right of return of Palestinian refugees and on the transfer of the Old City of Jerusalem to UN control.

Arab sources told Haaretz on Wednesday, however, that any renewed involvement in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be based on the 2002 Saudi peace initiative without changes.

On Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he and his Egyptian counterpart planned to present the Obama administration with a complete formula for resolving the Middle East conflict.

The Palestinian Authority and several Arab states are developing a plan to be submitted to U.S. President Barack Obama that would provide for gestures to Israel in return for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. The plan is designed to show Arab flexibility in the face of what they view as anticipated intransigence on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The plan will only be finalized after U.S. President Obama's upcoming meetings with Netanyahu, Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The plan is not expected to address the Iranian issue, which will be handled separately by the Americans.