Christopher in Syria on Mideast Shuttle Diplomacy

ISRAEL yesterday welcomed United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher's second Middle East peace mission in 16 days, saying it hoped he would broker a peace breakthrough with Syria.

Mr. Christopher, after meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, told reporters he had intervened to halt a flare-up of violence between guerrillas in Lebanon and Israel over the last few days.

The US secretary of state, who met Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Saturday, has made a personal crusade of helping Israel and Syria to make peace.

Syria and Lebanon are the only participants in nearly three years of peace talks who have not yet concluded even an interim peace deal with Israel.

Christopher flew to Damascus later yesterday for talks with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad on how to further achieve progress.

Syria's peace talks with Israel began nearly three years ago but are stalled over Syrian demands for full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

Israel agrees to a limited, phased pullback but will not say say how far until Syria is willing to commit to full official ties, open borders, and trade. Restraint urged as tensions increase

SYRIA, meanwhile, accused Israel yesterday of trying to sabotage United States efforts to break a deadlock in peace talks by stepping up its military attacks on south Lebanon.

The recent spate of violence started when Israeli airplanes bombed an apartment building in south Lebanon on Thursday, killing seven civilians.

Peres apologized for the Lebanese casualties, saying the bomb had strayed off course. ``It's not a policy, it's a mistake,'' he said.

Pro-Iranian Hizbullah guerrillas rejected the apology and responded by firing rockets into northern Israel, wounding three children. They also killed two Israeli soldiers in an ambush in south Lebanon on Saturday.

Israel, Argentina and the United States suspect Hizbullah of a role in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires last month in which almost 100 people died.

Israel also indicated it suspected the group might be linked to two bombs which hit Jewish targets in London a week later.

Christopher expressed concern about the new attacks in telephone calls to both Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara on Friday.

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