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Israel, Syria to Resume Indirect Peace Talks: Public Radio | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel and Syria will soon resume indirect peace talks with Turkish mediation, Israeli public radio reported on Monday.

An Israeli official would neither confirm nor deny the report, saying only that more talks were “very possible.”

Israeli and Syrian envoys have held talks in Turkey — without meeting face-to-face — on four occasions since May, when the talks were relaunched after an eight-year freeze. They last round was at the end of July.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meanwhile travel to Damascus on Thursday to attend four-way talks hosted by Syria on Middle East peace, a government spokesman said in Ankara.

The September 4 meeting will bring Erdogan together with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

France currently holds the presidency of the European Union, while Syria heads the Council of the Arab League and Qatar is the current chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The main issue dividing the two long-time enemies remains the strategic Golan Heights, seized by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in 1981 in a move not recognised by the international community.

Syria has demanded the return of the entire territory running down to the banks of the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main source of fresh water.

Israeli officials have remained tight-lipped about the Golan but said they are willing to make major concessions for peace.

If the two sides meet it could be their last encounter before Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert steps down to battle corruption allegations after a party leadership vote scheduled for September 17.