Israel is not ready for peace with Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Saturday in a joint press conference with Turkish counter Abdullah Gul.
"I do not think conditions are ripe for successful (Turkish) mediation, because Israel doesn't appear to be ready for peace," Assad said during the Ankara press conference.
Addressing a question about the possibility of an Israeli-Syrian military clash, Assad said: "If there is even a one percent chance of war breaking out, we are working to prevent it."
Syria's Assad with Turkey's Gul (Photo: AFP)
The Syrian leader also leveled scathing criticism at Israel, arguing that Jerusalem's hostile and uncompromising policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians undermines the Middle East peace process.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Gul said his country will be happy to assist in promoting the peace process for the sake of regional stability and welfare. Syria is ready to reopen peace talks with Israel, with Turkey serving as a mediator, but Israel has not asked Ankara to resume that role, he said.
"Syria has said it is ready to resume talks where they were left off," Gul said. "However, we have not heard from the Israeli side. It is up to them."
Turning their attention to Iran's nuclear program, both sides stressed that every state has the right to use nuclear energy and urged the international community to come up with a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Assad to sign cooperation deals
President Bashar Assad arrived in Turkey Saturday for an official visit, the Syrian press reported. He is expected to sign cooperation deals between the two countries.
During the two-day visit Assad was scheduled to meet with President Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Gul's office released a statement saying, "President Assad will visit Turkey in order to hold talks on the situation in the region and the relations between the two states."
Assad is expected to sign two cooperation deals with Erdogan, about joint communications projects and border crossings between the two states.
Meanwhile Turkey's ambassador to Damascus, Omar Aunhun said that "Syria and Turkey have succeeded in fostering true cooperation, which includes a positive example in the Middle East and helps achieve stability in the region. The Turkish leadership is expecting Assad's visit."
It will be Assad's second visit to Turkey in nine months. Turkey has previously mediated between Israel and Syria, but talks were held up by the resignation of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.