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Syria Rejects Israeli Invitation to Visit Jerusalem

Syria has rejected an Israeli invitation for President Bashar al-Assad to visit Jerusalem.

In a front page editorial, the editor of the Syrian ruling party's Al-Baath newspaper, wrote that such visits cannot bring peace between Syria and Israel.

The editor wrote that Israel knows no Syrian citizen would accept the invitation.

On Tuesday, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, in a television interview, invited the Syrian president to visit the Israeli Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem.

In 1977, then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a historic visit to Jerusalem, speaking of peace at Israel's Knesset. The visit led to the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and the Jewish state with Israel returning the Sinai desert to Egypt.

But the al-Baath editorial said Sadat's visit failed to bring peace to the Arab and Egyptian people.

The invitation by Peres came after President Assad, in a BBC interview, said he is ready for talks with Israel.

A spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dismissed the offer of talks, saying Israel will not negotiate as long as Damascus welcomes terrorist organizations.

Talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000 over Syria's demand that Israel return the entire Golan Heights, seized in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel wanted modifications to the pre-1967 border.

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