Israel's New Syrian View

Ehud Barak is plotting a big leap toward peace. The surprise jumping-off point: Damascus

Saturnine by disposition, Syrian President Hafez Assad is not known for saying anything nice about anyone. So it astonished all manner of Middle East pundits last week when he showered praise on the leader of his No. 1 enemy, Israel. Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak, Assad told an Arabic newspaper, is a "strong and honest man" who had a "real desire for peace." Barak blew a few kisses of his own, crediting Assad with creating a "strong, independent, self-confident" country.

The Middle East is not often a land of such sweet words. The intermedia flirtation between the two leaders has added...

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