UNITED NATIONS — Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shareh, in an unyielding speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Wednesday scornfully rejected the international peace conference plan advocated by some officials in Israel and supported by the United States.
Shareh urged the international community to refuse to attend the conference proposed by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres as a forum for direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
"Israel shall never enjoy peace in our region, irrespective of the extent of its military strength, as long as it continues to occupy any part of Arab lands," Shareh said.
The speech was a setback for U.S. efforts to bring Syria closer to the Arab-Israeli peace process. U.S.-Syrian relations have improved recently, after a year of bitter estrangement, but the Damascus regime has not wavered in its hostility toward Israel.