WASHINGTON: Military experts joined the Syrian and Israeli negotiating teams as a new round of peace talks began today in eastern Maryland. "This is more of a courtship dance than a marriage ceremony," says TIME's Beyer. "The talks are too low level and informal to come away with any kind of breakthrough agreement. But they are still very important. Negotiations have always been icy and formal between these two countries. These talks are thawing the air, which is necessary to get to the next step." The negotiations are being mediated by American Dennis Ross, and are expected to run into the middle of next week, with time off for the weekend. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said he will join in the discussions late Thursday and will travel to the region to meet with Assad and Peres after the talks are completed.