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Israel Rules out Peace Talks with Syria
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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday that his country will not negotiate with Syria unless it stops sponsoring terrorist groups, the Ha'aretz daily reported.

Olmert made the remarks shortly after Public Security Minister Avi Dichter called for ceding the Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria.

"I recommend not to get carried away with any false hopes," Olmert was quoted as saying during a tour of northern Israel.

 "When Syria stops support for terror, when it stops giving missiles to terror organizations, then we will be happy to negotiate with them," he said.

"We are not going into any negotiations until basic steps are taken which can be the basis for any negotiations," he said.

Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet security service and a member of the ruling Kadima party, said, "In return for a true peace with Syria or with Lebanon, I think that what we did with Egypt and with Jordan is legitimate here as well."

In exchange for return of all of the Sinai peninsula, which was taken by Israel in the 1967 war, Egypt fully normalized relations with the Jewish state in their 1979 peace treaty. Jordan also developed full relations with Israel in a 1994 treaty that included some return of territory.

The Heights, a plateau on the border of Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, was captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War.

Although Syria regained parts of the Heights during the 1973 Middle East War, large areas of the strategic plateau have remained under Israeli control.

(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2006)

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