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Diplomatic back channels: years of USA-Syria talks in Geneva

Stretching over several decades, meetings in Geneva between American presidents and Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, raised hopes of peace in the Middle East.

The situation at the end of the 1960s in the Middle East is tense. Israel and the Arab states are at war. Syria clashes against Israel over occupied territories in the Golan Heights. The US hopes to stabilise the region by strengthening ties with Arab nations.
It is in Geneva that presidents Hafez al-Assad and Jimmy Carter meet in 1977 for peace negotiations. The talks are unsuccessful.
In 1990, president George H. W. Bush meets Assad in Geneva again. The context is tense, and only a few weeks later, the US attacks Iraq supported by Syrian troops who have joined the international coalition.
Two other meetings follow in Geneva in 1994 and 2000. At the last summit with Bill Clinton, Hafez al-Assad hints at peace between Syria and Israel. But hopes are dashed, no concrete actions follow.

This video was initially published in French on the website of our partner Genève Vision.

--- is the international branch of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Its role is to report on Switzerland and to provide a Swiss perspective on international events.

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