Israel Cautiously Invites Syria to the Table

Olmert denounces war, hints back-door deals may end in peace talks
By Kathleen Osborn,  Newser User
Posted Jun 7, 2007 10:18 PM CDT
Israel Cautiously Invites Syria to the Table
Syrian President Bashar Assad waves to supporters at the Presidential palace in Damascus Tuesday May 29, 2007. Assad won overwhelming support of his countrymen, scooping up 97.62 percent of votes in a nationwide referendum on his leadership in which he was the sole contestant. The vote secured Assad...   (Associated Press)

Israel's PM deflected fears of a war with Syria today, and fueled semi-official rumors that peace talks are going on furtively between the two hostile countries. Olmert says he wants a sitdown with Syria—which would be the first in seven years—but warned president Assad that talks would not be an invitation to a land grab of territories lost in 1967.

Both sides are seeking U.S. approval for the talks, and both are intensely cautious about them. Syria says its concerned about Israeli war games replicating the takeover of a Syrian village, though Israel insists the exercises are routine and the country wants peace. and Israel is wary of Syria's support for Hamas and Hizbullah, which derailed previous talks.
(Read more Syria stories.)

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