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CNN Today

According to State Department, Israel-Syria Peace Talks Progressing Well

Aired January 5, 2000 - 2:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Having cleared procedural hurdles, the Israelis and Syrians sat down this morning to try and tackle some of the issues that have made them mortal enemies. What they're searching for is a compromise agreement that could signal the end of more than 50 years of conflict.

CNN's Walter Rodgers is keeping track of the talks in Shepherdstown, West Virginia -- Walt.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

It is U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who is today shepherding the Israeli-Syrian peace talks in West Virginia. President Clinton is back at the White House, although officials say he will return to these talks later in the week.

The Syrians and Israelis have broken up into various working groups. The first two working groups to meet in these discussions are that which will deal with normalization of ties between the two countries, and the other working group which is now meeting is the one on mutual security arrangements both for the Israelis and the Syrians.

A few moments ago, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright took the temperature on the third day of talks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES RUBIN, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I indicated yesterday we were on track. I think we're chugging along. We're not on a fast track. And so we're chugging along in a professional manner, but these are very difficult issues, and we've just gotten started in that kind of serious way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RODGERS: That was of course Secretary Albright's spokesman, James Rubin. Mr. Rubin said the talks are constructive, business-like and positive. Those are diplomatic code words to suggest that there is no crisis at this point.

He was asked a short while ago also how long the round of talks will go. Mr. Rubin said he expected everyone will take stock at the end of the week. I'm Walter Rodgers, CNN, live in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

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