CBNNews.com - DAMASCUS, Syria - After recent threats to retake the Golan Heights by force if necessary, Syrian President Bashar Assad called on U.S. President Barack Obama to take an active role in negotiations with Israel.
Assad's remarks, quoted in Syria's state-run news agency, followed meetings over the weekend with two U.S. congressmen, who reportedly promised renewed cooperation between the two countries.
Details of the meetings were not disclosed.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that peace talks between Israel and Syria were on the agenda and would be addressed once the new Israeli government was in place.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, sworn into office last week, has called ceding the Golan Heights a nonstarter, while Assad says it's a prerequisite to opening talks with Israel.
The Golan Heights, which came under Israeli control during the Six Day War and were later annexed, are strategic to Israel's security.
Since 1967, Israel invested millions to develop the Golan Heights, which had been sorely neglected under Syrian rule.
Prior to the Six Day War, Syrian snipers used the ridge to fire on Israeli farmers in the valley below. For years, children slept in bomb shelters to protect them from nightly attacks by the Syrians.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Turkey Monday on the last leg of his eight-day European tour.
Turkey is the first Muslim nation visited by Obama, who is seeking to repair America's standing in Islamic countries.
Last month, Obama's videotaped message to the Iranian people during Nowruz, the Persian New Year, was rebuffed by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Sources: Haaretz, The Associated Press