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Angry community leaders on the Golan Heights were meeting in emergency session Thursday following reports that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had offered the strategic territory to Syria in exchange for peace. The Committee of Golan Heights Community Heads released a statement saying "the Jewish people will never agree to relinquish it" and that a handover "constitutes a grievous threat to national security and is predestined to fail." Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed that Turkey was playing mediator between his country and Israel but that no direct talks would be held until after the next US administration takes office. Above, a student on the Syrian side of the Golan waves to her mother in a village on the Israeli side.

New global anxiety over the availability of rice surfaced Thursday as prices in Thailand, the world's No. 1 exporter, rose to $1,000 per ton. Traders there projected the price could climb by another $300 in the months ahead as buyers compete for remaining supplies. The concern began last week when India imposed export curbs to conserve its supply for domestic needs. Brazil and Vietnam, two other major producers, quickly followed suit. Above, rice is off-loaded from a ship in the Philippines, the world's largest importer.

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