An aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir Thursday assured Israelis in the Golan Heights that reports of government readiness to demilitarize the area in peace talks with Syria were baseless.

Yossi Ahimeir, director of Shamir's office, made the statement in a letter following reports that Washington was floating the buffer zone idea as a way of reviving Middle East peace efforts, despite the gulf war.Ahimeir told Jewish settlers in the region that "reports that Israel would agree to demilitarize the Golan Heights are baseless."

The strategic Golan Heights were captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War.

Ahimeir's letter also followed an upbeat assessment by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who said Wednesday in Damascus that Syria was ready to recognize Israel as part of a postwar settlement.

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Israeli officials dismissed Genscher's remarks. "Israel's right to exist is not subject to any Middle East settlement," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Amihud.

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