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Israel Rejects Syrian Offer for Peace Talks


Israel says it will not negotiate with Syria as long as Damascus supports terrorist groups, brushing off a Syrian offer of peace talks.

A spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Tuesday also criticized Syria for pro-Hezbollah statements made by its foreign minister, Walid Moualem during the month-long Israel-Hezbollah war.

Syria and Iran are believed to be key suppliers of weapons and money to Hezbollah.

In an interview broadcast Monday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he is ready to hold talks with Israel but that an impartial arbiter should mediate between the two sides. The Syrian leader said he doubts the U.S. can play that role. He said Washington lacks the will and the vision to pursue peace in the Middle East.

Talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000. Syria has demanded that Israel return the entire Golan Heights. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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