From Haaretz …The United

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From Ha’aretz

The United States demanded that Israel desist from even exploratory contacts with Syria, of the sort that would test whether Damascus is serious in its declared intentions to hold peace talks with Israel.

In meetings with Israeli officials recently, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forceful in expressing Washington’s view on the matter.

The American argument is that even “exploratory talks” would be considered a prize in Damascus, whose policy and actions continue to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and the functioning of its government, while it also continues to stir unrest in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. presence there.

When Israeli officials asked Secretary Rice about the possibility of exploring the seriousness of Syria in its calls for peace talks, her response was unequivocal: Don’t even think about it.

Israeli officials, including those in the intelligence community, are divided over the degree to which Syrian President Bashar Assad is serious and sincere in his call for peace talks with Israel.

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