Syria is engaged in clandestine talks about reopening peace negotiations with Israel in an attempt to head off United Nations sanctions next week over its alleged role in the February assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the Guardian reported on Thursday. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are urging Syrian President Bashar Assad to restart bilateral talks with Israel. Israel-Syrian negotiations broke down five years ago. Discussions were under way in Mecca on Wednesday at a summit of the Islamic Conference Organization, chaired by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and attended by most Arab heads of government. "Syria would go along with almost anything at this point," a senior Arab diplomat told the Guardian. "They are looking for any leeway. They are definitely looking for a way out of this mess." Last month, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that "talk about retreating from the Golan Heights was a grave mistake" and that Israel would not sign a peace agreement with Syria. "I have no intention of negotiating with Syria, although Syria wants such talks," Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "I do not intend to sign any type of agreement with Syria."