Languages
Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Olmert Turkey talks tackle Syria

Outgoing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Ankara (22.12.08)
Turkey has hosted four rounds of indirect Syrian-Israeli talks

Outgoing Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has held "long, intensive and fruitful" discussions with Turkey's PM on peace talks with Syria, his office says.

The visit came as Syrian President Bashar Assad said direct talks were a "natural" later stage.

Turkey has hosted four rounds of indirect talks between Israel and Syria this year, but they were halted when Mr Olmert resigned over corruption claims.

Syria has remained in a state of war with Israel since its 1948 foundation.

The indirect negotiations are thought to centre on the fate of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syrian support for armed groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the militant Islamist group Hamas.

It's natural that we would move, at a later stage, to direct negotiations. We cannot achieve peace through indirect talks only
Bashar al-Assad

The situation in Gaza was also on the agenda as Mr Olmert visited Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday night, the Israeli leader's office said.

Foundations

Mr Olmert, who is caretaker prime minister until Israeli general elections on 10 February, also thanked Mr Erdogan for his contribution to the Middle East peace process on both the Palestinian and Syrian tracks.

No date has been set for the resumption of the indirect talks with Syria, and there has been uncertainty over how the transition to a new Israeli government, and also a new US administration, will affect the process.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of centre-right Likud party who polls suggest is Israel's most likely next leader, said on Monday that a government under his leadership would not withdraw from the Golan Heights.

Separately, Mr Assad said: "It's natural that we would move, at a later stage, to direct negotiations. We cannot achieve peace through indirect talks only."

Speaking during a press conference with his visiting Croatian counterpart, Mr Assad said that indirect talks should lay "solid foundations" for further negotiation; "if the bases are successful, then direct negotiations will be successful", he said.

In September Syria presented a six-point document for Israel to consider.

At the time, Mr Assad said the points concerned the "withdrawal line", a reference to the extent of Israel's possible withdrawal from the Golan Heights which it occupied in 1967.

Direct Israel-Syria negotiations last took place in 2000 under US auspices.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Syria back in international fold
04 Sep 08 |  Middle East
Syria sets basis for Israel talks
04 Sep 08 |  Middle East
Lebanon and Syria look to future
14 Aug 08 |  Middle East
Lebanon and Syria in border talks
14 Aug 08 |  Middle East
Israeli doubts over Syria peace
14 Jul 08 |  Middle East
New round of Israel-Syria talks
01 Jul 08 |  Middle East
Israel-Syria talks 'constructive'
16 Jun 08 |  Middle East
Water crucial to Golan talks
06 Jun 08 |  Special Reports

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific