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SYRIA CLAIMS EGYPT'S BACKING ON GOLAN

Egypt is supporting Syria's demand for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in peace talks with Israel, a Syrian official said Saturday.

Syrian presidential spokesman Joubran Kourieh said Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak expressed his support for the Syrian position during talks with President Hafez al-Assad in Damascus.

A third round of U.S.-mediated talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa, scheduled for last Wednesday, was called off because the two sides could not agree on an agenda.

Syria wants Israel to give priority to discussion of a withdrawal from the Golan Heights, captured by the Israelis during the 1967 Middle East War, while Israel wants to give priority to reaching agreement first on security arrangements and the normalization of ties with Damascus.

U.S. State Department officials said experts from Israel and Syria would arrive in Washington separately over the next two weeks for talks on a draft peace proposal presented by President Clinton during negotiations earlier this month inShepherdstown, W. Va.

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