ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT, JULY 15 -- Syrian President Hafez Assad said today that there are "no differences" between him and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the need for "a serious initiative" toward peace in the Middle East and that he is ready to take a more active role, "depending on the circumstances."
Mubarak, who along with Assad spoke briefly to reporters after two days of discussions here, said the two leaders had discussed "how to activate the peace process." He added that "we are waiting to see what the final results of the American-Israeli negotiations" on the subject are.
Then, he said, "we will think about what to do."
Assad said Syria still supports the idea of convening an international peace conference on the Middle East in Geneva, a plan Israel has opposed.
The trip was Assad's first to Egypt in almost 14 years. The two countries restored diplomatic relations in December after a 13-year break.
Syria and Egypt have long had major differences on how to approach a peace settlement between Israel and the various Arab parties, including the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Egypt's 1977 peace overture to Israel, which culminated in a 1979 peace treaty, has been at the core of Egyptian-Syrian estrangement.
Those differences are expected to remain, although there now appears to be a mutual intent to coordinate more closely on regional issues, including a peace settlement.
When asked what circumstances would draw Syria into a more active role in the peace process, Assad replied that "this is a matter which does not concern us only and there are other parties in the area and . . . parties which are outside the region, in the East and the West. In the end, it's we people in the regions who will decide" on a settlement.
The two leaders said they discussed the need to end the bitter feud between Assad and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Assad added that despite the long-standing differences between Syria and Iraq, eventually "we will reach an agreement."
Egypt is working hard to produce a reconciliation between Assad and Saddam Hussein by the time of the next Arab League summit, which is to be held in Cairo in November.
When reporters pressed Assad on whether he accepted the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Mubarak interrupted the questioning, saying, "The peace treaty with Israel concerns Egypt."
The two leaders are scheduled on Monday to fly to Egypt's Sinai Desert -- a territory that Israel seized during the 1967 Middle East war and returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace treaty.
Assad then will return home, officials said.