Secretary of State Warren Christopher veered off from the European security summit in Budapest to meet with Syrian President Hafez Assad in Damascus, resuming the Administration's attempt to force a Mideast peace breakthrough. In a four-and-a-half-hour meeting, Christopher pressed Assad to make a public declaration denouncing terrorism, but merely received a promise from Assad that he'd think about it. The Secretary then shuttled to Jerusalem, where Israeli leaders blamed Syria for the deadlocked peace talks and expressed little hope that Christopher's trip would jar loose an impasse over the disputed Golan Heights. (Also today, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman John Shalikashvili that Israel would need U.S. troops in the territory to enforce any future treaties with Syria.) While the Clinton Administration has been hinting a treaty might surface soon, TIME State Department correspondent Ann Simmons says a more realistic timeframe -- if there is one -- suggests a spring pact.