Rabin Denies Secret Deal on Golan Heights Return

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, briefing leaders of the opposition Likud party on the Middle East peace talks, has denied media reports that Jerusalem and Damascus have already reached a secret deal for the return of the Golan Heights.

Rabin acknowledged at the meeting Monday that he was prepared, in principle, to discuss the territorial question with Syria, in exchange for full satisfaction on the nature of the peace envisaged by Damascus.

He spoke after several weekend news reports in Britain and one in India claimed Israel had agreed to recognize Syrian sovereignty over the entire Golan Heights, to withdraw from a large part of the plateau, which would then be demilitarized, and to lease the remainder for a period of 90 years.

Likud sources said a good part of the 90-minute briefing was taken up with a report on the U.S.-Israeli strategic relationship. Rabin asked the Likud leaders not to divulge details of the privileged information he gave them.

The prime minister spoke at length about the Golan negotiations but revealed little of substance, the Likud group said. The Likud team included Ariel Sharon, David Levy, Moshe Katsav and Benjamin Netanyahu.

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