World leaders were expected to converge on Damascus for tomorrow's funeral in honor of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Within hours of his death, parliament amended the Constitution, lowering the minimum age for president from 40 to 34, to accommodate Assad's son Bashar. The ruling Baath Party then nominated Bashar, a British-trained physician and Army colonel, to succeed his father. Once parliament rubber-stamps the move, Bashar likely will be the only candidate in a national election to fill the presidency.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators flew to Washington for this week's resumption of peace talks, which - with Assad now out of the picture - were expected to command the undivided attention of both sides. Bashar Assad will need time to consolidate his power, making early resumption of Israeli-Syrian negotiations unlikely, analysts said. So the Palestinians no longer need to worry that Israel will play them off against Syria. The elder Assad had been sharply criti
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