RIYADH: US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger arrived here today [May 9] to brief Saudi Arabian leaders on the progress of his efforts so far to secure a disengagement of Israeli-Syrian forces. Following an afternoon meeting with King Faisal, he flew on to Cairo for a third round of discussions with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat. Reports from Jerusalem, from where Dr Kissinger set out this morning ... said there was an air of cautious optimism on the prospects for separating Syrian and Israeli troops on the Golan Heights front. This optimism was generated even though Syrian leaders themselves turned down Israel’s latest proposals for a disengagement agreement. …

The Syrians are reported to have asked for Israeli withdrawal from Mount Hermon, Kuneitra town and surrounding strategic hilltops as well as from some settlements on the Golan Heights. Israel has rejected these demands. … According to observers in Damascus, the peace mission has ... reached a final phase where either an agreement must be concluded or the efforts should be declared to have failed. Meanwhile, tank and artillery duels continued on all Golan front sections today.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2024

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