Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday disappointed his French hosts and international observers when he snubbed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a summit of Mediterranean nations in Paris.
The government of French President Nicolas Sarkozy had intended to have Assad and Olmert sit at the same table during the summit's opening banquet, and hoped the two men would shake hands and even hold informal talks with one another.
But as the summit got underway, Assad made a point of sitting at a distance from Olmert, and then walked out of the hall when the Israeli ascended to the podium to deliver his speech.
Speaking to reporters later in the day, Assad said that peace between Israel and Syria could be achieved in the next year or so, but that the process could not really begin until Olmert and US President George W. Bush are out of office, as neither seem willing or able to meet Syria's demands.
Syria insists that it will not even start direct peace talks until Israel guarantees its full withdrawal from the Golan Heights.