Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Ian Black Middle East editor, 25 September 2007, The Guardian
Syria is expected to rebuff an invitation from the US to attend a grand Middle East peace conference later this year because it does not believe that either the Bush administration or Israel wants to reach a comprehensive regional settlement.
President Bashar al-Assad has made no comment on Sunday's call by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state. But diplomats said yesterday that the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Mouallem, will decline the offer when he holds talks at the UN this week – unless he receives ironclad assurances that the event will be more substantial than currently appears likely….
Khaled Yacoub Oweis of Reuters, writes Syria plays down peace chance after Israel raid:
An Israeli raid on Syria has all but finished off chances for resuming peace talks between the two foes, Syrian officials said on Monday.
In the first clear reaction to the Sept 6. Israeli air strike, officials told Reuters Syria was wary of retaliating against Israel given the military superiority of the Jewish state and because of lack of Arab support.
Another reason was Damascus's changing relationship with Russia, an ally during the Communist era.
The officials were dismissive about any new peace talks, which collapsed in 2000 over the scope of an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights, a 1,750 square km (676 square mile) plateau which the Jewish state captured from Syria in 1967.
"After this raid, you can forget about peace. It is no secret that our forces have been on alert for some time, but Syria will not be the first to start a war," said one of the Syrian officials, who asked not to be named.
"Arab states have not exactly rallied in our support. As for peace, the international picture could start changing late next year with a new administration in Washington," another official said.
Even Moscow, a strong backer of Syria in the days of the Soviet Union, did not directly condemn the Israeli action, in which Syria says planes bombed an empty area after air defence systems confronted them. Israel has not disclosed the target.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sultanov advised Syrian officials not to go after Israel at the United Nations beyond a protest letter, according to a diplomat familiar with Sultanov's recent meetings in Damascus.