Syrian messages relayed to Livni through Turkish FM
Foreign minister meets Turkish counterpart in London during conference of donor nations discussing aid to Palestinian Authority. Israeli officials estimate Ankara will continue to mediate between Jerusalem, Damascus, although efforts have yet to bear fruit
This was the first meeting between Israeli and Turkish officials since Syrian President Bashar Assad's meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last Sunday, following the reports that Ankara is mediating the talks between Jerusalem and Damascus.
Friday's meeting was held as part of a donor nations' conference in England's capital to discuss aid to the Palestinian Authority. Livni also met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and was scheduled to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other British and Jordanian officials.
The meeting began with the participation of the two foreign ministers' entourages, and was followed by a face-to-face meeting in which the two discussed the Syrian issue.
Babacan delivered to Livni messages relayed by Syria through his country. Following the meeting, Israeli officials expect the delivery of messages through Ankara to speed up. In the meantime, however, developments allowing direct negotiations between Israel and Syria have yet to be achieved.
The disagreement between the two countries derives from Israel's demand that Syria withdraw from the "Axis of evil," cut its military ties with Iran, stop funding Hamas and Hizbullah and prevent arms smuggling into Lebanon. Assad, on his part, demands that Israel cede the entire Golan Heights and withdraw to the 1967 border.
Another issue raised during Friday's meeting was the escalation in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. The nations taking part in the London conference are pressing Israel to lift the siege impose on Gaza.
During her meeting with Babacan, Livni clarified that Israel was working to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, stating that the crossings have been opened for humanitarian needs. She added, however, that Hamas gunmen killed two Israeli workers at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal as Israel attempted to transfer fuel into the Strip.
The two officials also discussed the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Livni told her Turkish counterpart that the talks were progressing despite the international community's skepticism.
Hagit Klaiman in London contributed to this report