Turkey mediating Israeli-Syrian talks

May 21, 2008 at 10:30 AM
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JERUSALEM, May 21 (UPI) -- Turkey is mediating talks between Israel and Syria on a peace agreement between the two countries, government representatives said Wednesday.

The announcement, announced simultaneously in Jerusalem, Damascus and Ankara, said "Israel and Syria have launched peace talks mediated by Turkey," Ynetnews.com reported.

"The two sides have declared their intention to hold the negotiations in good faith and openly, and hold a serious and continuous dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive peace deal in accordance with the framework set at the (1991) Madrid Conference," the joint statement said.

The two countries have been in indirect talks since February 2007 and negotiating teams have been in Ankara since Monday. Talks include Syria's disassociation with suspected terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office, however, denied a statement by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem that Damascus effectively got commitments for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights to the disputed June 4, 1967, border.

"As Olmert has said in the past, Syria knows what Israel demands of it and Israel knows what Syria expects it to do," officials in the prime minister's office told The Jerusalem Post.

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