Photo: AP
Turkey's Erdogan
Photo: AP
Syria's Assad
Photo: AFP

Turkey ready to resume Israel-Syria mediator role

As he leaves for one-day visit to Syria, Turkish PM Erdogan says requests to resume peace process have started coming in. 'We should get to work on this issue,' he adds at Ankara airport, without indicating what country had contacted Turkey

Turkey is ready to agree to resuming its role as mediator in indirect talks between Israel and Syria, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday before leaving for a one-day visit to Syria.


"Requests to resume the process have started to come in, we should get to work on this issue," he said at Ankara's airport, without indicating what country had contacted Turkey.


"We should be ready" to relaunch the talks, he said. "We are determined to do all we can for peace in the Middle East."


Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Alep in northern Syria.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office said in response to Erdogan's announcement that "the prime minister said in the past that he is prepared to renew negotiations with Syria with no preconditions. The prime minister said that he is willing to travel to anywhere necessary to this end, and that any channel – the Turkish or the American one – is legitimate."


Ankara last year brokered four rounds of indirect talks between longtime foes Israel and Syria, focusing on the contentious issue of the return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau seized by Israeli forces during the 1967 war.


But talks were suspended when the Jewish state launched an offensive against the Palestinian Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip in late December.


Turkey, a Muslim but secular country, is Israel's main regional ally with strong economic ties since signing a military cooperation accord in 1996.


However, the Gaza offensive that killed more than 1,000 Palestinians has strained relations between Turkey and Israel.


In January an angry Erdogan stormed out of a debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on the Gaza conflict that included President Shimon Peres.


Roni Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 07.22.09, 14:22
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