Syria to Attend U.S.-Sponsored Mideast Peace Conference

Syria says it will attend the U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, this week.

A Syrian government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says Damascus is sending the deputy foreign minister.

Arab attendance at the Annapolis summit is seen as a victory for the U.S. The Bush administration is hoping that broad Arab participation will help bring about an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Syria has said it will attend only if the conference discusses the Golan Heights. Israel captured the strategic plateau in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed it.

Israel has signaled it is interested in opening peace talks with Syria, but it wants the summit to focus on the Palestinian issue.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas officials have issued warnings that the Israeli-Palestinian peace conference is likely to result in more violence rather than settlement. Hamas threatened to escalate its own 'resistance' to Israeli occupation, and condemned the decision by Arab powers to endorse this week's conference, saying the talks would favor Israel's policies rather than Palestinian demands.

The Associated Press and Mike Tobin contributed to this report.