Mideast Peace May Come Slowly

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Damascus Standoff DAMASCUS: After spending five hours in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez Assad, Secretary of State Warren Christopher pledged to continue discussions until reaching a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hizballah, but declined to say whether any progress had been made so far. An pact amenable to both Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres may be a long time coming, says TIME's Scott MacLeod. "We are likely to see this war go on until the Israeli elections," says MacLeod. "It may calm down, but Peres can not stop firing until he wins and Assad is not ready to let him win. It is a recipe for more tit for tat on both sides." Although Israel is seeking to expand on its 1993 agreement with Hizballah to not target civilians, MacLeod says Syria will try to prevent Hizballah from making any concessions. "Assad has lost nothing so far in this and he is in absolutely no mood to grant any kind of concessions to end it," says MacLeod. "Assad would just as soon that the fighting continue indefinitely, rather than let Israel gain from it."