Assad Sees Little Progress in Israel Talks


President Hafez Assad said Sunday he is uncertain whether peace with Israel can be achieved this year and that efforts by the United States to revive Syrian-Israeli talks have made little progress.

Speaking after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Assad said peace talks between Syria and Israel are still at an "exploratory stage."

Mubarak, who was in Damascus to try to help break a deadlock in the negotiations, left for home after two sessions of talks with Assad.

Assad praised efforts by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to revive the Syrian-Israeli talks but said no tangible progress has been made.

Success in the Syrian-Israeli negotiations would remove the biggest obstacle to peace in the region.

Israel has offered a staged pullout from the Golan Heights over eight years in return for normal ties with Damascus; Syria has said withdrawal should precede discussion of future ties.

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