Hosni Mubarak played down speculation that a war between Israel and Syria could be imminent.In an interview with Israel’s daily Yediot Acharonot, the Egyptian president said Israel should not be overly worried by Syria’s recent mix of peace overtures and threats of military action to recover the Golan Heights.”Problems could arise that will bring about tensions, but there will not be a war,” he said. “They know who they are dealing with, and they are familiar with their capabilities. You Israelis have an excellent strategic assessment when it comes to them. You know them well.”Mubarak urged the Israeli government to enter into preliminary negotiations with Syrian President Bashar Assad. “Try him out. Sit down with them and find out if their intentions are real, or if this is only a trick,” he said.In a separate interview with Israeli TV, Mubarak rebuffed charges of ignoring arms smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border. “Show me one country that is capable of guarding its borders 100 percent,” he said.Mubarak pointed out that Egypt’s military presence in the Sinai is circumscribed by its peace accords with Israel. “We have to have the necessary garrison, but you do not want us to deploy more forces on the border,” he told Israel’s Channel One.
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