Minister Babacan
Photo: AFP
With Olmert
Photo: GPO
And with Assad
Photo: AFP
Turkey: Direct Israel-Syria talks possible
Turkish foreign minister says once common ground found between Jerusalem, Damascus in renewed peace negotiations, there may no longer be need for Ankara's mediation

Turkey said on Tuesday the indirect peace talks it is mediating between Israel and Syria could be upgraded to face-to-face encounters if progress is made.


Israel and Syria announced last week they had begun a dialogue with the aim of a comprehensive peace, the first confirmation of negotiations in eight years.


"A common ground is now being formed and that common ground is considered to be satisfactory by both sides," Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told a news conference in Brussels.


"If meaningful and concrete developments take place in these mediated talks, it will be possible at that time to have direct meetings between the two sides," added Babacan.


However he stressed: "We are at the very beginning of this process and it is not going to be an easy one."


Turkey, which has good ties with both Israel and Syria, hosted three days of talks in Istanbul last week and has said a further round is scheduled to take place shortly.


Israel has set terms for a peace deal that include the demand that Damascus distance itself from Iran and stop supporting Hamas and Hizbullah.


Syria wants the return of the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in 1967.


Babacan was in Brussels to review Turkey's accession talks with the European Union.


First published: 05.27.08, 14:46
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