Olmert plays down Syria tensions


Israel moved to play down speculation that a war with Syria could be imminent.Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert convened top Cabinet colleagues Wednesday for
intelligence briefings on Syria, which has made several peace overtures
since last year’s Lebanon war but also built up military forces near
its border with Israel.”Israel does not want war with Syria,” Olmert’s office quoted him as saying at the closed-door
meeting. “We
must avoid miscalculations that are liable to lead to a security

The prime minister has spoken of rapprochement with
Damascus as an option, but conditioned it on the Syrians first stopping
their sponsorship of Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist groups.In
parallel, Israeli officials tried to tamp down speculation that there
could be armed confrontation with Syria within months or even weeks.
Political sources said that the top military brass has received
instructions not to make public comments that could be perceived as

The Israeli rhetoric about Syria’s recent troop
movements has also mellowed, with increasing references to it as
“defensive” in nature.

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