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Clinton Returning to Mideast Talks

January 4, 2000

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) _ With Israeli-Syrian peace talks stuck on procedural issues, President Clinton said he would return to the negotiations today to try to set the two sides on course for reaching a landmark land-for-peace accord.

``I think they’re both very serious. They both want an agreement,″ the president said a day after plans for a joint meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa evaporated.

In advance of Clinton’s arrival, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Barak to try to resolve differences between the two sides over what divisive issue should be negotiated first.

The disagreement apparently center over the timing of discussions on an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights _ at the beginning of the talks, as Syria wanted, or at the end, which Israel preferred.

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