Syria said last night that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel last weekend had wrecked any chances of new Middle East peace talks in Geneva.
Syrian Information Minister Ahmed Iskander told a press conference in Damascus that Sadat's initiative had created divisions among Arab countries that prevented them from negotiating with Israel as a single delegation. "Consequently there will be no Geneva," Iskander said.
Syria's press and various officials, but so far not President Hafez Assad, have been highly critical of Sadat's visit. Until yesterday, however, Syria had not suggested that it would damage chances for peace talks in Geneva.
When the original Geneva talks opened four years ago, Syria refused to attend on grounds that Palestinians were not properly represented.
Jordan, caught between two sides in the Arab world's split over the Sadat trip, urged Sadat's opponents yesterday to ease up in their criticism.
The state-controlled Amman Radio, in its first assessment of the trip, said that while it had come "as a surprise to all Arabs," now "Arabs should unite in order not to force Sadat to take a separate decision."
Amman warned that the rift caused by the visit could lead to an "explosion" if allowed to continue.
Sadat is expected to make major disclosures about his talks with Israel when he addresses Egypt's Parliament in a broadcast today.
Meanwhile, a round of diplomatic visits begins this weekend and peace in the Middle East is expected to be a chief topic.
Western diplomats in London report that French Prime Minister Raymond Barre will use the opportunity of an official visit to Damascus this weekend to try to dilute Syria's hostility to an early reconvening of the Geneva talks.
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan plans to go ahead with a three-day visit to West Germany Sunday although his official host, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, is in a hospital with suspected pneumonia. The decision to make the trip anyway has fueled speculation that Dayan might be planning to meet Arab officials in West Germany.
Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin has rescheduled for the following weekend a three-day trip to Britain that was delayed because of Sadat's trip.
In other Middle East developments:
Israeli Radio said the mayors of two key West Bank towns Nablus and Tulkarm, have rejected an Egyptian invitation to come to Cairo to discuss Middle East peace strategy.Israeli Radio said the rejected the invitation on the grounds that the Palestine Liberation Organization was the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians.
The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning Israeli's occupation of Arab territories and calling for convening of peace talks in Geneva with participation of the PLO. Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog called the resolution an obstacle to peace.
Official sources in Damascus said Syria had agreed to attend a Libyan-sponsored anti-Sadat summit meeting to be held soon either in Algeria or Libya to untie Arab opposition to Sadat.