En route to Turkey. Turbowitz
Photo: Avi Mualem
Israel-Syria peace talks to resume under Turkish mediation
Olmert aides to travel to Turkey for fourth round of negotiations with Syrian representatives. 'Our desire for peace is very serious,' Israeli official says. Syrian sources: No direct talks in near future

Israel and Syria will begin on Tuesday a fourth round of indirect peace talks under Turkish mediation, an Israeli official said.


Two advisers to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz - will travel to Turkey during the day to resume the talks, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.


"Israel's desire for peace is very serious," the official said. "That is why we expect that the process that has been begun will soon evolve into direct bilateral negotiations with a view to achieving significant results."


However, official Syrian sources denied any possibility of Syria and Israel holding direct peace talks in the near future.


According to the sources, the disagreements between the countries remain substantial, despite the three rounds of indirect talks sponsored by Turkey.


One of the sources told the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper Al-Khaleej that the "conditions for negotiations haven't ripened due to the political situation in Israel and the upcoming elections in the US."


The Israeli-Syrian talks started in May after an eight-year freeze, and the third round was held in early July.


Under the format of the talks, Israeli and Syrian officials do not see each other and Turkish diplomats shuttle between them.


Israel and Syria have been formally in a state of war since the Jewish state was created in 1948, but the two countries since signed an armistice.


The last negotiations broke down in 2000 over the fate of the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized by the international community.




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