Τετάρτη, 21 Μαΐου 2008

Διαιτητής στη Μέση Ανατολή και Παρασκηνιακή Δύναμη η Τουρκία!


Olmert had 'assured the Turkish prime minister of his readiness to return the Golan heights' [EPA]

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, has announced that Israel and Syria are holding indirect peace talks mediated by Turkey.

A statement released by Olmert's office on Wednesday said the sides "have declared their intent to conduct these talks in good faith and openly".

Walid Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, confirmed indirect talks taking place in Turkey, saying that Damascus had received commitments for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights up to the June 4, 1967 border during Turkish-brokered indirect talks.

"We received commitments for a withdrawal from the Golan to the June 4, 1967 line," Muallem told AFP during a visit to Bahrain.

"This is not new. It started since Rabin's pledge (for a total pullout) in 1993, and all subsequent Israeli prime ministers abided by it," he said, referring to Yitzhak Rabin, the slain Israeli prime minister.

The goal is "to reach a comprehensive peace agreement," the statement said.

Peace talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000 over the fate of the strategic Golan Heights plateau occupied by Israel for four decades.

Peace talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000 over the fate of the strategic Golan Heights plateau occupied by Israel for four decades.

Syria has consistently demanded the return of the whole of the Golan down to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Israel's main water source, in return for peace.

But Israel baulked at the demand in the last peace talks.



Turkish mediation

Turkey's foreign ministry confirmed to Al Jazeera that "indirect peace negotiations under Turkey's auspices" had been launched, and reports suggested that talks began on Tuesday in Istanbul.

But Turkish foreign ministry sources told Al Jazeera that Syrian and Israeli delegations had not yet met together in the same place.

Instead, sources said that a senior Turkish delegation was currently holding separate talks with both parties, Al Jazeera's correspondent reported.

Turkish officials said that if a common ground was reached on Wednesday in Istanbul, the two Israeli and Syrian delegations might be brought together in a meeting to launch direct negotiations in Istanbul and draft a joint tripartite [Turkish-Israeli-Syrian] statement.


'Secret' talks

Last month, as Ankara renewed mediation efforts between Syria and Israel, Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, announced that he had passed on a message from Israel to Syria expressing its readiness to swap the Golan Heights for peace.
Turkish authorities insisted on bringing two delegations to the country in an attempt to conclude talks with a tripartite statement, our correspondent said.
But Ankara has set as a condition that it is the only mediator between Syria and Israel, threatening to withdraw its meditative efforts if any other party intervenes, our correspondent added.

Source: Al Jazeera

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