Syria has rejected an Israeli invitation for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to come to Jerusalem for peace negotiations.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav made the offer on Israel radio on Monday, saying Israel must examine the Syrian leader's recent call for peace talks to resume.
But a Syrian official, Expatriates Minister Buthaina Shaaban, quickly rejected the offer, saying it was "not a serious response" to President al-Assad's proposal.
The Syrian leader said last month he was ready to resume the talks where they left off in 2000, with Israel offering to return nearly all of the Golan Heights siezed by Israel from Syria during the 1967 war.
The Israeli president, who is head of state but has limited political influence, said Monday the talks should resume with no pre-conditions.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday the Jewish state is ready for peace talks with Syria, but only if Damascus stops supporting terrorists.
A statement carried by Syria's official news agency dismissed Mr. Katsav's offer as a "media maneuver." It accused Israel of trying to sidestep internationally-backed plans for peace in the region.
Mr. Katsav told reporters he regretted Syria's rejection of his offer. He said it appears the Syrian president is not made of the same stuff as former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who accepted an Israeli invitation to come to Jerusalem in 1977. That visit eventually led to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in 1979.
Turkey has offered to mediate between Syria and Israel in a bid to get the negotiations going again.