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(photo credit: AP)
A Syrian state-run newspaper on Saturday described this week's US-sponsored Mideast peace conference as a "defeat" for the Palestinians and for peace in the region.
In a surprise move lauded by participants at the time, Syria took part in the conference in Annapolis last week where Israel and the Palestinians announced that peace talks would resume after a violent seven-year freeze and agreed to try and reach an agreement by the end of 2008.
"The US administration has the right to consider the Annapolis meeting a brilliant victory, but not for the Palestinian people ... only for Israel," said the front page editorial in the Tishrin daily.
"While the Bush administration and Israel may consider what happened and what could happen to destroy the Palestinian cause a victory, we consider it a defeat for a just and comprehensive peace," Tishrin said. That peace, it added, can only be achieved by ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.
The newspaper, which reflects government views, criticized US President George W. Bush's statement at the opening session of the Annapolis meeting in which he referred to Israel as a "Jewish state," calling it a "consecration of Israeli racism."
It described the conference as a "carnival that reminds us of similar celebrations since Oslo until today, and of agreements that with time have gone with the wind."
Syria, which agreed to attend the conference only after receiving assurances that the Golan Heights issue would be added to the agenda, left Annapolis without a specific promise to restart stalled talks with Israel.
In the immediate aftermath of the conference, however, Syrian papers praised the event and urged a more activist role for the US to promote peace in the region.
Syrian President Bashar Assad discussed the Annapolis meeting late Friday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Syria's official news agency said. SANA said Ban applauded Syria's "constructive participation" in the meeting.
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