( RIA Novosti ) - Syria will only take part in an international Middle East conference next week in Annapolis if the return of the Golan Heights is on the agenda, a deputy Syrian foreign minister said Tuesday.
The Washington-sponsored conference aims to re-launch formal peace talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities, interrupted amid growing violence seven years ago.
Israel has stationed troops on the Golan Heights since seizing the territory from Syria in the 1967 war, however the Israeli military recently concluded that an armed conflict with Damascus is becoming increasingly unlikely, prompting a partial withdrawal.
"The question of the Golan Heights should be included on the agenda for Syria. We are very interested in peace, but this process should be comprehensive," Faysal al-Mikdad told journalists in Damascus after talks with his Russian counterpart Alexander Saltanov.
Saltanov called the prospective Annapolis conference "an important step." The Russian deputy foreign minister said Russia is calling for another Mideast settlement meeting in Moscow.
Russia and other countries are pressing Syria to participate in the Annapolis summit because they say without Syria the conference will be unconstructive.
The Syrian ambassador to Russia, Hassan Risheh, said his country is in favor of holding an international conference on the Syrian-Israeli settlement in Moscow.
He did not rule out that it could take place in December, soon after the Annapolis meeting. "If this kind of conference is continued in Moscow, we will welcome it," he said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Tuesday at a meeting with Saltanov that a new Lebanese president should be acceptable to the entire Lebanese nation and should be backed by a majority of the country's citizens, and Saltanov agreed with him.
Lawmakers in Lebanon are set to vote on a new president on Friday, when incumbent pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's term expires. However, the opposition and the ruling anti-Syrian coalition have yet to agree on a candidate.
Lebanese parliamentary majority leader Saad al-Hariri said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he hopes for Russia's support in resolving the current Lebanese problems.