Israeli officials:Check Syrian peace offer

Dec. 15, 2004 at 11:24 AM

HERZLIYA, Israel, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Two senior Israeli officials have urged a serious examination of Syria's offer to negotiate peace.

Their calls came after Cabinet ministers maintained Syrian President Bashar Assad has called for peace talks to deflect international pressure on his country.

Appearing Wednesday before the Herzliya Conference, Foreign Ministry Director General Ron Prosor said Assad "honestly won international skepticism over his signals (but) Israel cannot avoid seriously checking his intentions and examining where he is heading." Prosor read from a prepared text. It was highly unlikely he would make such a statement without Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's consent.

Monday President Moshe Katsav told the labor gathering examining Assad's level of "seriousness, the intentions of Syria's president, in making peace with us" would be a good idea.

The calls contrasted with messages coming from the prime minister and the defense minister's bureaus. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reiterated at the Herzliya Conference "the conditions (for an Israeli-Syrian dialogue) have not been created yet."

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