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    U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad explored the possibility of creating demilitarised?

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    U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad explored the possibility of creating demilitarised zones in the Middle East during talks in Geneva, on Monday (9 May). This would be as a means of protecting an eventual peace settlement between Israel and the Arab countries.

    SYNOPSIS: Mr. Carter flew to Switzerland from London where he attended a seven-nation summit and a big-four meeting on Berlin. It is the first time that Mr. Carter and the Syrian leader have met. Both leaders expressed guarded optimism regarding progress about a Middle East peace agreement. But while President Carter is calling for flexibility and pinning his hopes for conciliation on what he calls "strong and moderate leaders in the Middle East" President Assad seems to be placing his faith in hopes that Mr. Carter will try to persuade Israel to make concessions to the Arabs. Mr. Carter's one-day meeting with President Assad is the fourth he has held with a Middle East leader since taking office in January. The two leaders addressed a news conference before their discussions began.

    The journalists then heard a speech in Arabic from President Assad. He said in spite of difficulties in the past, Mr. Carter's expressions on Middle East peace had created an atmosphere of faith and an encouraging atmosphere of optimism. But later in his speech, Mr. Assad launched an attack on Israel. He said renewed war is threatened in the Middle East unless Israel withdraws its forces from occupied Arab territory and recognises the rights of the Palestinian people. President Carter also renewed his call for a homeland for Palestinians. However, he has not specified its precise form and has never spoken about a Palestinian "state".

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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