Photo: AP, Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
PM Olmert (L) and President Assad
Photo: AP, Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
Direct Syria-Israel talks imminent, Turkish officials say
Turkish Foreign Ministry officials say date for launching of direct peace negotiations between Israel, Syria to be set following Assad's upcoming visit to Paris

Sources in the Turkish Foreign Ministry estimate that direct peace negotiations between Israel and Syria will follow the next round of indirect talks between the countries, London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Wednesday.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's advisors, Yoram Turbowitz and Shalom Turgeman arrived in Ankara on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the possibility of launching direct talks with Syrians. The fourth indirect round of talks is scheduled to begin in two weeks' time.


A date for the launching of the direct negotiations, as well as the level of the officials who will participate in them will be determined following Syrian President Bashar Assad's trip to Paris in about a week-and-a-half.


Al-Hayat quoted the Turkish sources as saying that France is also assisting in the talks, primarily with regards the Shebaa Farms land dispute.


Earlier this week Assad dubbed the political climate in the Middle East "positive", and called on the EU to increase its involvement in the peace talks with Israel.


"The political climate in Israel is generally positive. We must give the different political processes a new push in order for them to proceed in the right direction," Assad said during a meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store in Damascus. He was quoted by the official Syrian news agency Sana.


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