Syria Will Not Attend Conference on Water Resources if Israel Does

Syria has served notice it will not attend a conference on Middle East water resources if Israel is invited.

Political sources in Jerusalem said Damascus’ announcement cast serious doubt on Syria’s intentions to participate in the peace process.

President Hafez Assad reportedly told U.S. Secretary of State James Baker at their Damascus meeting last month that he was prepared to enter direct talks with Israel.

But his attempt now to block an invitation to Israel to discuss a regional issue is viewed with the utmost gravity in Jerusalem, Ma’ariv reported Monday.

The conference, due to convene in Turkey in November, was organized at the initiative of Joyce Starr, an internationally famous American hydrologist. She has been working for years to find solutions to the limited water resources in the Middle East, a problem affecting every country in the region.

The United States made its backing of the conference conditional on an invitation to Israel. The Syrian ultimatum may lead to its cancellation.

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