Israeli foreign minister: Talks with Syria without preconditions

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Jerusalem - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday he was willing to hold peace talks with Syria, but without any prior conditions, such as a guaranteed Israeli return of the occupied Golan Heights. "I'd be happy to hold negotiations with Syria even tonight, but without preconditions, without an ultimatum," he said.

Iraqi president hails "new era" in Syrian-Iraqi relations

Iraqi President Jalal TalabaniBaghdad  - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Wednesday hailed "a new era" in the relationship between Iraq and Syria following a Syrian ministerial delegation's visit to Baghdad.

"This visit opens a new era of strategic relations in the political, economic, security, trade, and oil sectors," Talabani said following his meeting with Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji al-Otri on Wednesday.

Syrian prime minister to begin Iraq visit

SyriaBaghdad - Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji al-Otri is expected to begin a two-day visit to Iraq at the head of a ministerial delegation on Tuesday, an Iraqi government spokesman said.

Al-Otri will hold meetings with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, his two vice-presidents, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki over the course of his visit, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters.

The 10 Syrian ministers accompanying him will also meet with their Iraqi counterparts, al-Dabbagh said.

First Lebanese ambassador to Syria arrives in Damascus

First Lebanese ambassador to Syria arrives in Damascus Damascus - Michel al-Khoury, the first Lebanese ambassador to Syria, arrived in Damascus Monday, in a further step toward normal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

"I am very happy to be the representative of my country in Syrian territory," Khoury told the German News Agency dpa on Monday. "I am now waiting for an appointment to present my credentials to President Bashar al-Assad."

Jordan charges Syria is violating water-sharing agreement

SyriaAmman - Jordan has protested to Syria against what it called "violations" of the sharing agreement of the Yarmouk River water, the Jordan Times reported Sunday.

The protest was made by the Jordan Valley Authority's Secretary General Musa Jamaani during a meeting on Saturday of a technical panel affiliated with the Jordanian-Syrian Committee of the Yarmouk River Basin, the paper said.

"The violations of the water sharing agreement are unacceptable," Jamaani was quoted as telling the Syrian side.

Syrian court sentences three men to death for murdering diplomat

Syrian court sentences three men to death for murdering diplomat Damascus  - A court in Damascus has sentenced three men to death after finding them guilty of murdering a "senior diplomat" from an unidentified country's embassy, a Syrian newspaper reported Tuesday.

The diplomat met one of the men, a 26-year-old identified only as Amjad, at a bathhouse in Damascus and agreed to pay him for sex, Syria's official al-Thawra daily reported Tuesday.

The court found that the two met several times at the diplomat's flat before Amjad plotted to rob the man with the help of two friends.