Middle East: What Are These Two Up To?

With Assad now willing to attend a regional peace conference, Shamir faces heavy pressure, especially from the U.S., to go along

When the gulf war ended in March, Washington had high hopes that the allied victory would provide the momentum for Arabs and Israelis to seek a broader peace. But that expectation quickly curdled into disappointment as George Bush discovered both sides still clung to conditions that precluded talks. Bush sounded less than confident last spring, when he dispatched Secretary of State James Baker to Israel and its Arab neighbors on a round of exploratory diplomacy. "It's the Baker plan," the President joked. "If it works, we'll call it the Bush plan."

Both of them, in fact, applied steady pressure and persuasion,...

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