Report: Israel seeks Syria talks

Israel reportedly plans to seek U.S. approval for launching secret peace talks with Syria.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, who heads out to Washington this week for routine bilateral strategic talks, will raise the idea of new back-door negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus, Yediot Acharonot reported Monday.

According to the newspaper, Mofaz plans to tell Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Syria’s demand for a return of the Golan Heights, and its recent build-up of forces near the territory, warrants asking what it would be willing to give Israel in exchange for a peaceful resolution.

Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied the report, which comes amid rising fears of an armed confrontation on the Syrian front.

“The military is prepared for any eventuality on the north, but at the same time, we should not rule out any call for peace by Syria,” Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Israel’s Army Radio, without elaborating.

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